December 2, 2021

Trojans’ defense delivers win

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Homer’s Dante Yacavone (81) right, spins free of Oneida defender Nico Losito (56), as Homer’s Luke Sears (68), arrives in the second quarter Friday at Butts Field.

Homer Central grounded out plenty of yards on offense, but had trouble sticking the ball in the end zone.
It mattered little as the Trojans defense was superb on a cold, rainy, raw Friday night on Butts Field.

The second-seeded Trojans (7-1 overall) rushed for 219 yards, but got their only score on a Jacob Rivers to Dante Yacavone 8-yard pass for a 6-0 Section 3 Class B quarterfinal round football victory over seventh-seed Oneida (4-4).

In other Class B quarterfinal play, fourth-seed Chittenango (6-2) out-gunned fifth-seed Central Valley (4-4) 44-30 and third-seed Mexico (7-1) downed sixth-seed Marcellus (4-4) 32-12.

Eighth-seed Skaneateles (4-3) heads to top-seed Cazenovia (7-1) this afternoon. Homer and Mexico will meet in one semifinal game this coming weekend, with Chittenango facing the Cazenovia-Skaneateles winner. The site, date and times will be announced Sunday.

Homer allowed just 64 rushing yards by Oneida and picked off two Indians’ passes while allowing no completions in six passing attempts. It was a dominating performance by Homer, but still an exciting game with just the six points scored.

“It was a great defensive game,” Oneida coach Jason Fuller said. “I’m really proud of the kids. The seniors and all the guys played hard. Both teams really played phenomenal defense.

“We just couldn’t get anything going,” he added. “Homer plays an aggressive-style defense. We knew it. We play the same way. It just ends up a 6-0 game. That’s the way it is.”

“Both teams played great defense,” Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik said. “Oneida played all 48 minutes and every down hard, just like we did. We did have three chances to score in the first half we shot ourselves in the foot.

“We didn’t capitalize, but what a difference eight weeks makes,” he added. “We were composed, we didn’t panic and we played tough. We found a way to believe in each other and it helped us find a way to win.”

HOMER OPENED THE game with a 15-play, 75-yard drive that chewed up 7:39 on the clock, but were denied on fourth-and-goal from the Oneida 2-yard line. The Indians went three-and-out, punting on fourth down. Nate Lombardi had a nice 45-yard punt that Oneida downed at the Homer 44-yard line.

The Trojans marched 56 yards this time on a dozen plays while chewing up six minutes, capped by quarterback Rivers’ touchdown flip to receiver Yacavone for the only points of the game. Tucker O’Donnell missed the extra point and a 27-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, but the junior certainly made up for those misses on the defensive side.

O’Donnell recovered a Tanner Williams fumble at the Trojan 31-yard line as Oneida was driving on its second possession of the second half.. That recovery came on the heels of the Indians picking off a Rivers pass at the Oneida 10, which was the lone Trojan turnover on a soggy evening.

Homer continued to use large amounts of time on their possession, but never came close except on the missed field goal try with 4:55 left in the game, Oneida turned the ball over when O’Donnell got his interception two plays after the missed field goal, O’Donnell boomed a 46-yard punt into the end zone and the Trojans again got the ball back when Matt Guerrera intercepted a John Jones pass with 1:43 left. in the game.

“The weather was tough tonight, but we have each other’s back,” O’Donnell said. “When Johnny (Horner) went down, the next guy stepped up. Matt and Kevin (Bush) played great games. They both came up big for us.”

GUERRERA WAS CALLED upon to play tailback in the second half after Horner went down with a knee injury on the final play of the first half. Horner had 65 yards on 13 carries. Guerrera carried the ball 13 times for 51 yards while Bush had 13 carries for 46 yards. Zach Barber had a nice game as well with 37 yards on four carries and one catch for 11 yards.

“We all have to do whatever we can when called upon,” Guerrera said. “We all step up when our name is called. That’s just what I had to do tonight.

“Anything we can do to play another game is what we want,” he continued. “I love this team and we all love playing together.”

“Some people may blame it on the weather, but I think we just have to step it up a little more,” senior co-captain Luke Sears said after another night spent terrorizing the opposition on defense and recovering a blocked punt by Vincent Basile. “This is the sectionals. We really have to work our butts off and try to get better.

We try to wear teams down,” he added. “We focus on playing hard and playing with intensity. That’s what we have to do to win.”
As for facing Mexico in the semifinals?

“It will be fun to play someone new,” O’Donnell said. “We will prepare like we always do and be ready to take them on next week.”

“It doesn’t matter who we play next,” Guerrera said. “As long as we have another week to play, that’s all that matters.”

“We are just trying to win every game,” Sears said. “We fight and grind for every yards. We have more games to win so we can get to The Dome. That’s our next goal.”