December 1, 2021

Homer football falls short in regionals

Paul Cifonelli/sports editor

Homer senior Jake Calabro punts the ball back to Maine-Endwell during the regional finals Saturday at Vestal High School. Homer lost 48-22

VESTAL — The Homer football team’s season came to a screeching halt Saturday as the Trojans gave up 34 second-quarter points to Maine-Endwell in a 48-22 loss in the regional finals at Vestal High School.

It looked like points would be at a premium after one scoreless quarter, but junior Aidan McHugh’s 18-yard touchdown run got things rolling for the Spartans. The extra point was blocked by multiple Homer players, then senior Jake Calabro helped the Trojans storm down the field with two big passes, one to junior Hunter Riehlman and one to junior Bryce Hoffmann. That drive ended with a 7-yard touchdown from Calabro to Riehlman on fourth down. Calabro found Hoffmann on two-point try and gave Homer its only lead of the day.

Maine-Endwell then rattled off 28 consecutive points to end the second quarter. Senior Donnie Hamer had a 45-yard run for a score, then senior quarterback Michael Mancini had touchdown runs of two and 22 yards and a 65-yard pass to Hamer that went to the house. Mancini’s 22-yard run came with just 18 seconds before halftime after Calabro was intercepted with 43 seconds left in the half.

“The minute we showed a little vulnerability, they (Maine-Endwell) just came at us full steam,” Homer head coach Gary Podsiedlik said. “They capitalized on our mistakes and did an awesome job. In the trenches, we were really struggling to control the line of scrimmage in the second quarter.”

The Spartans’ biggest lead of the game was 40 after scoring the first two touchdowns of the second half as well. Hamer found the end zone for the third time on the day with a 38-yard run, then junior Dontae Creveling took a handoff 56 yards from a score. Creveling’s score made it a 48-8 game.

Homer put up a fight to the end with two fourth-quarter scores. Junior Sam Sorenson, who was held to 83 rushing yards on 13 carries, scored a 20-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Senior Braden Marsh chipped into the lead some more with 1:51 left in the game. Senior Dalton Eldridge made an extra point after both Sorenson’s and Marsh’s touchdowns, giving the Trojans 14 points in their final quarter of the season.

To Podsiedlik, it was Maine-Endwell’s patience and persistence that helped them pull away.

“They stayed with their gameplan,” Podsiedlik said. “They’re a great coaching staff. They’re smart and realized that, ‘until they (Homer) make every phase of the game tough on us, we’re going to go with what we practiced,’ and that’s what they did.”

Despite the tough loss, Podsiedlik will have fond memories of the 2021-22 Homer football team.

“We (the coaching staff) feel privileged to be able to coach young people as dedicated as they are,” Podsiedlik said. “I’ve never seen a team this playoff week as focused as they were.”