October 31, 2014
Trojans ready for Oneida rematch
The top four seeds in the Section 3 Class B football playoffs all moved on to the semifinal round at Chittenango High School Saturday afternoon.
The 3 p.m. contest will feature familiar foes Homer Central and Oneida looking to advance to the Carrier Dome. The second-seeded Trojans are 8-0 while Oneida is the third seed with a 7-1 mark.
The two teams also met in last year’s Class B semifinals, with Oneida prevailed 31-9 on the same Chittenango turf. That was the largest point difference in the history of the two teams meeting each other. Six of the outcomes have been decided by one touchdown or less.
Top-seed Cazenovia (8-0) meets fourth-seed Westhill (7-1) are the opening game of the doubleheader at noon.
The Trojans moved up to fourth in the latest Class B state poll while Cazenovia holds on the the third spot behind multi-time state champion and top-ranked Maine-Endwell from Section 4. Oneida is ranked 16th in the polls while Westhill is 20th.
Both Oneida and Homer possess powerful offenses and tough defenses. The Trojans average 56.9 points per game to 33.3 for the Indians. Homer is allowing just 8.8 points per game defensively, Oneida allows 21.4.
“The biggest thing in our success has been the offensive line,” veteran Oneida coach Bill Carinci said. “They have developed well.
“We know each other very well,” he added of meeting Homer. “Gary (Podsiedlik) is a very down to earth coach. They ran a good pro-style offense. Alec Bush is an excellent runner and Jayden Gavidia has great speed at wide receiver. They put a lot of pressure on you defensively, They put a man over the top. Theses are things they have done successfully for a long time.”
That improved Oneida line is anchored by 6-foot-3, 190 pound junior center Kevin DeBottis. He is flanked by seniors Thomas George (6-6, 250) at left guard and Joey Stoffle (5-11, 215) at right guard, the only two returnees to the o-line at the start of the season. The tackles are junior Brodie VanDyke (5-7, 160) on left and Dakota Sgarlata 6-0, 190) on the right.
“YOU DO NEED to beat us early on defense,” Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik said. “Bill always takes what he’s got and gets the job done. When he has the talent and can pass, they do that. If they’re not as strong in terms of talent, he gets the guys that can run the ball right at you.
“It’s something we both share as coaches,” he continued. “We get the kids to buy into the system and they learn to trust each other. You see that in the development of his line and the growth of our line with Zach Clark and Luke Sears at the tackles.”
The strength of the Trojan offensive line was the return of starting seniors Anthony Basile (5-8, 226) at left guard, Matt Suits (6-1, 178) at center, plus junior Dylan Hotchkiss (6-1, 195) at right guard. All three have been mentors to junior Clark (6-2, 350) and sophomore Sears (6-1, 225).
Oneida does have an experienced quarterback is senior Rory McCarthy, a three-year starter. McCarthy is a dual-threat. He has completed 50-of-91 passing attempts for 925 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions while running the ball 83 times for 546 yards and 10 touchdowns. McCarthy is also the strong safety (25 tackles) on defense so the Trojans could have a few extra chances to put a body on the 6-foot, 180-pounder.
McCarthy has three receivers in double figures. Senior tight end John Nish (6-1, 175) is the main target with 15 receptions for 276 yards and three touchdowns. Junior running back/wide receiver Brad Mallinder (5-10, 155) has 13 catches for 133 yards while senior running back Travis Moyer (5-11, 190) has caught 12 passes for 295 yards and four touchdowns. Moyer is the team’s leading rusher with 106 carries for 647 yards and 10 touchdowns as he is coming off a season high 152 yards, four touchdown night on 22 carries against Marcellus in the first round of the playoffs.
HOMER COUNTERS WITH senior tailback Alec Bush (5-9, 186) who had rushed 134 times for 1,673 yards and 26 touchdowns during his record-setting season and career. There is relief from senior running back Gage Root (5-11, 173) who has 32 carries for 206 yards and four touchdowns and senior running back Chris Birchenough (5-9, 170) with 43 carries for 362 yards and five touchdowns.
“Oneida can run the ball and catch the ball,” Podsiedlik said. “You have to tackle these guys at the waist and legs. He can’t tackle these guys around the shoulders.”
While Oneida has McCarthy, Homer has two-year senior Drew Cottrell as its starting quarterback. Cottrell has completed 29-of-47 passes for 606 yards and 10 touchdowns with no interceptions. He owns an excellent 145.2 quarterback rating this season. Gavidia (5-9, 170) is the leading receiver with 13 catches for 372 yards and nine touchdowns. Senior Dean Riley (5-10, 190) has emerged as a very reliable tight end with seven catches for 89 yards and one touchdown and his blocking as improved all season long. Another senior, Jake Hayes (5-10, 175), has rushed for 169 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries while also making four clutch receptions for 74 yards as the halfback or Z-back. He is coming back after hurting his knee in the Marcellus game Oct. 10. Hayes has had a good week of practice and is ready to go Saturday according to Podsiedlik. Hayes has been promoted to the fourth captain for the remainder of the season with Basile, Bush and Cottrell.
BOTH DEFENSE LISTED starters in a 3-4 set (Oneida) or 3-5 look (Homer), but neither teams does that in reality. It how depends how the outside linebackers and cornerbacks are used. You will see even fronts (4-or-6 man) and a dose of odd (3-and 5-man) fronts as both teams will look for that edge.
Nish is the trigger for Oneida from linebacker as he leads the Indians with 43 tackles. Defensive end Jakob Albro is next with 30.5 tackles and senior linebacker Jake Dougall (5-11, 170) is next with 29.
Homer has been successful getting pressure on the quarterback with the determined inside push by Root or Birchenough at nose guard. Basile and Sears pose the outside threat with linebacker Becker and Hotchkiss.
Carinci has one key to victory and that has never changed in any of our conversations.
“The team that makes the fewest mistakes and doesn’t turn the ball over will win the game,” he stated.
“You have to show up and play your best,” Podsiedlik said. “Play physical, play aggressive and don;t turn the ball over. That will win the game.
“I know we are not looking ahead to playing in the (Carrier) Dome next week,” he added. “We have had a good week of practice and the guys are focused on what’s in front of them this week.”
There will be three more Trojans on the sidelines Saturday as sophomores Matt Guerrera, Cody Johnson and Jack Walter have been brought up after solid seasons with the junior varsity squad. Guerrera (5-8, 155) will wear No. 86 as a tailback-defensive back. Johnson (5-11, 175) will wear 87 as tight end-linebacker and Walter (5-11, 160) will wear 89 at fullback-linebacker. Podsiedlik said that all three will see some time on special teams.
TROJAN TIDBITS: The Blue Collar Awards were given out to Drew Cottrell (non-line) and Jason Marshall (line)...Oneida leads the all-time series with 6-3. In addition to last year’s playoff win, the Indians won 34-33 in 2009. The last Homer win was a 6-0 Butts Field win in 2012. There have been four of the nine games decided by one point with Oneida winning three times, twice the final score was seven points or less with each team winning once and each team has one 14-point victory.
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