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Trojans replace several starters for title defense

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Homer defender Aaron Newcomb, right, tackles a Chittenango running back as linebacker Gabe Cline follows up during Saturday’s scrimmage. Both players are defensive starters for the Trojans this season.

Five straight.

That’s the number of consecutive Section 3 Class B West Division championships won by Homer Central football team, which is also the defending sectional Class B champion.

The Trojans kick off the 2018 season Friday when Solvay comes to George Butts Field in the 7 p.m. Section 3 B West Division opener for both squads. Homer was 6-0 in the division and 10-1 overall last fall after falling to Section 4’s Chenango Forks in the New York State Class C Regional game.

Homer has 29 players on the roster, down five from one year ago, with a mix of 17 seniors, 11 juniors and one sophomore for head coach Gary Podsiedlik, who begins his 29th season at the helm and 36th overall with the program that enters its 71st year.

HIGHLY MOTIVATED

“We wondered if this senior class would be able to lead,” Podsiedlik said. “They have really been motivated since practice began. They have been ultra-focused and mentally focused. In the scrimmage, every the ball reached the line of scrimmage, guys were flying to the ball. I felt we were more focused than we have ever been the last couple of years.

“These guys have a good knowledge of the game and they have been doing what has been expected in every practice. These seniors will be the leaders and we have liked what we’ve seen so far.”There are changes though, as offensively, six skill position starters are gone along with three offensive linemen.

Senior right guard Chase Kiner (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) and junior right tackle Damien Hoyt (6-4, 310) are the returnees. They will be joined in the starting line-up by junior center Derek Fickett (6-3, 221), junior right guard Garrett Mead (5- 10, 165) and junior right tackle Hunter White (6-0, 262) who are all up form the JV ranks.

Expecting to see time on the offensive line when needed will be senior Lane Quaile (5-8, 186), senior Nick Parker (5-10, 165), senior Troy Gardner (6-0, 191), senior Dwight Russell (5-8, 231) and senior Branden Riley (5-10, 233) who are all returnees except for Russell, who is new to the team.

NEW QUARTERBACK

The new quarterback for the Trojans will be junior Dylan Yacavone (5-10, 150) who is up from the JVs. Senior Aaron Newcomb (6-0, 175) will back him up along with junior Zachary Apker (6-0, 138) who is up from the JVs and senior Gabe Cline (5-8, 155).

The backfield will see Parker as the starting fullback with senior Charles Lines (5-9, 165), Cline and junior Josh Lee (5-7, 140) backing him up. Lee is up from the JVs. The starting tailback is Lines, but there are plenty of players in reserve. Sophomore Andrew Van Patten (6-0, 170), senior Zach Mallory (5-6, 130), junior Matt McUmber (5-10, 140), senior Joe Brady (5-9, 145) and junior Alijah Seamans (6-2,161) will touch the pigskin when needed. Van Patten, McUmber and Seamans are up from JVs.

The starting “X” or wide receiver is senior Tommy Britt (6-2, 160), but Mallory, junior Sage Drake (6-0, 160) and senior Josh Markley (6-0, 150) are at the ready.

At the “Z” or flanker position will be senior John Denkenberger (5-7, 151) as the starter with Mallory, McUmber, senior Zack Williams- Bachman (5-7, 151) and junior Connor Matthews (5-9, 135). Drake and Matthews are up from the JVs.

The starting tight end is Newcomb with senior Colin McNeill (5-11, 185) next in line. McNeill could also step into the offensive line when needed. Junior Bryce Horner (5-8, 130) is also on the roster, but he is sidleined by injury. Matthews is also late in joining the team and will miss some games.

Defensively, Homer has Lines at middle linebacker (mack) as the lone returnee.

The three down linemen will be Whit (DT), Quaile (nose guard) and Newcomb at the DE. Backing them up will be Hoyt, Fickett, Mead, Britt, Russell, Riley and Gardner.

Joining Lines at linebacker are Kiner at the gator (strong side outside LB), Denkenberger at the dog (weak side OLB), Parker at shark (strong inside LB) and Cline at wolf (weak side inside LB). Backing those guys up are McNeill, Drake, Apker, Williams- Bachman and Riley.

In the secondary, Mallory is the strong-side cornerback, Brady is the quick-side cornerback and McUmber is the safety. Seamans, Lee, Markley and Matthews will provide back-up.

As for special teams, Lines will be the kickoff-field goal-extra point kicker to start with Gardner, Williams-Bachman Fickett and Matthews ready when needed. The long snapper is McUmber with Denkenberger and Lines as backups. The punter is Lines with Van Patten and Williams-Bachman possibles. On punt returns with be Mallory, Brady, Denkenberger or McUmber. McUmber will be the deep man on kickoff returns with Mallory and Denkenberger on the wings. Brady could also be back in kick returns as well.

Podsiedlik’s veteran staff has assistant varsity coaches Tom Cottrell, Jim Whidden and David Podsiedlik returning. George Schneider is back to coach the JVs with Geoff Sorenson and Mike Di- Mattei returning as his assistants. Mark Ferrito is back at the helm of the Junior High program with returning assistants Dustin Morris and Chris Young.

The Class B West Division will be tougher than ever with the addition of the defending Class C state champions from Skaneateles and the Section 3 Class D runner-up in Bishop Ludden. Cortland, Marcellus, Solvay, Syracuse Institute of Technology and Westhill are the league’s holdovers.

“Solvay will throw everything they can at us in the opener and that’s all we are focused on right now,” Podsiedlik said. “Skaneateles is well-coached. Westhill and Marcellus are always tough. Bishop Ludden is a good team while Syracuse Tech can cause problems. Of course, Cortland is a rivalry game and everything goes out the window with a rival. We simply have to be focused every game as we take them one at a time.”


TROJAN TIDBITS: There will be plenty of visuals honoring former head coach Mike Norris, who passed away Aug. 16. The team will wear a sticker on its helmets with “MN” in white letters on a blue background. There is also a remembrance of Norris in this year’s program, which will be available at every home game…Parker, Lines, Kiner and Hoyt are the 2018 team captains. Nick Parker was the Brian Czarnecki Award winner and he will have the option to wear the No. 68 jersey this season… Colin McNeill was the winner of the Top Dog Award for the most off-season training credits for the third year in a row…Pre-season Blue Collar Awards went to Colin McNeill (lineman) and Dylan Yacavone (non-line)…Matt Cutia, Jake Plunket, Dustin Morris, Laurie Lash and Gail Webster will be inducted into the Homer Athletic Hall of Fame during halftime ceremonies Friday.

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