CORTLAND — For the Homer Trojans, Tuesday’s game against the Cortland Purple Tigers meant many things.
It was the final game for the seniors. It was a chance to continue their win streak against their next-door rivals. It was a chance to go undefeated in an abbreviated season. And, as their coaching staff put it in the postgame huddle, it was the final game of the “ultimate preseason.”
All those motivating factors coalesced into an easy 40-6 Trojans victory at Moiseichik Field, the ninth consecutive victory for Homer over Cortland.
Although their season lasted only three games, senior running back Andrew VanPatten (225 rushing yards, three touchdowns) finished his career in third place on the all-time Trojans rushing leaderboard, and the Trojans (3-0) did not allow a single offensive touchdown all season.
VanPatten outgained the Purple Tigers’ offense by himself, 225-84 — with 56 of the Purple Tigers’ yards coming on their final two drives of the second quarter, after gaining net zero yards up until that point.
“I got the privilege of coaching Andrew’s father, Dirk VanPatten, who was a punishing linebacker and tough son of a gun on the football field, and Andrew just rose to the occasion his senior year,” Trojans coach Gary Podsiedlik said. “He played as well defensively as he did offensively.”
Even with the Purple Tigers stacking seven or eight players in the box almost every play, VanPatten was still able to blast into the second level almost effortlessly, slipping off contact like a greased pig. He had touchdown rushes of 21, nine, and 52 yards in the first half, had eight carries of at least 10 yards and even had a sack on defense.
“Our running backs are just as responsible for the running game as the linemen are, and it’s ingrained in our kids that if you’re a tailback and they don’t tackle you, make them tackle you,” Podsiedlik said. “We use a ram technique where you come off your play action and you run into that kid, so he’s forced to tackle you, so he thinks every down of the game he needs to hit you in order to stop our offense.”
Cortland’s lone touchdown came with less than nine minutes left in the fourth quarter when Kaleb Thorhauer blocked a punt at the Trojans’ 36-yard line and ran it into the end zone to a loud ovation from the Cortland fans and bench.
Remarking about his defense not allowing a touchdown in three games, Podsiedlik said “You can’t do that without great players…they remember adjustments to trips, they remember adjustments to unbalanced, year in and year out, because the concept is ingrained in them at the junior high level, and as a result, when you have a little extra talent like we do, when you put the two together you have a defense that’s pretty stifling.”
Logan Peck had two rushing touchdowns out of his four carries, and Sam Sorenson caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Jake Calabro midway through the third quarter for the final Homer score.
The “ultimate preseason” now comes to a close for the Trojans, and while it wasn’t the truly ideal season Podsiedlik hoped for his seniors, he is proud of how they’ve matured, and he is already making preparations to get his returning and upcoming players in shape to make a deep run in the fall.
“We were pretty creative in finding ways to get our kids in shape,” Podsiedlik said. “We’re hoping to get more freedom to train our kids in the late spring and summer months. We had a mature senior class… they’ve grown up in high school, they’re tremendously mature, they led the way for the underclassmen, and we only have 11 of them out of our 34-man roster. Everybody else is coming back, and we’ve got one heck of a sophomore class coming up.”
The Purple Tigers (2-1) finish their season at 2 p.m. Saturday at Chittenango.
Dryden 12, Whitney Point 0
The Lions got in their final tune-up for the IAC Final on Saturday with a drubbing of Whitney Point.
Casey Phillips registered another hat trick within the first eight minutes of the game, Matt McKewin-Bates had two goals and two assists, Nolan Weik had two goals, Corey Matesanz had three assists and Gage Hinckley, TJ Osied, Cole Goggan, Rickey Bachner and Ben Hicks each scored one goal.
Marathon 1, Southern Cayuga 0
Marathon avenged their loss to Southern Cayuga as Kaiden Cornell took a Braeden Morrison pass and converted a left footed shot past Chiefs goalie Brandon Vanacore seven minutes into the second half.
Trent Ensign made four saves
for the Olympians’ fifth shutout in nine games.
The two teams will face off again for the division title, likely Thursday.
Stockbridge Valley 3, DeRuyter 1
Jill Jacobs scored a hat trick for the Cougars, including two goals in the first five minutes, as the Rockets took the loss on home soil.
Shakiah Glisson scored the lone Rockets goal off an assist from Keely Worlock.