It was a 15-point loss, but there were some positive take-aways for first-year coach Kelly Gordon after his Ithaca High football team’s season-opener last Friday.
“It was a tough battle, and we’re disappointed in the loss, obviously,” he said Thursday, referring to his team’s 35-20 loss at home to Susquehanna Valley. “We went into the game with high expectations, we wanted to win. But at the same time, I was pleased with our effort. I just hope we improve a little bit on the execution this week, as far as pre-snap stuff, getting better with our assignments, eliminating some of the mental mistakes. That’s going to be a key for us this week.”
The Little Red (0-1) will try to end a seven-game losing streak dating back to last year when it takes on Horseheads (0-1) at 7 tonight at Moresco Stadium at Bredbenner Field. The Blue Raiders are coming off a tough 23-22 loss last week to Windsor.
Other Section 4 Conference games tonight involving area teams include Elmira Notre Dame at Trumansburg, Chenango Valley at Lansing and Groton at Bainbridge-Guilford. On Saturday afternoon, Dryden heads up Route 38 to take on Moravia in a 1:30 kickoff.
Ithaca gave up 481 total yards last week to the Sabers, including 420 on the ground, led by Marquis Jackson, who carried the ball 26 times for 297 yards and scored four of his team’s five touchdowns on runs of 7, 40, 22 and 87 yards.
Senior quarterback Naeem Clark accounted for more than half of Ithaca’s total yards against SV, completing 8 of 16 passes for 67 yards and rushing 24 times for 161 yards and all three of the Little Red’s touchdowns. Classmate Julian Tino, last year’s starting QB, broke his hand during a non-contact drill early in preseason camp, and Gordon is hoping he will be back to full strength by next weekend.
Gordon praised the play of Clark (“His ability to make plays, even when the play breaks down, was huge for us,” he said) as well as senior two-way lineman Mike Gould and fellow senior Tyler Spencer-Goodrich, who the coach said “played an awesome game for us at linebacker.”
Gordon said Horseheads will be another tough test for his squad.
“I know they’re a tough, well-coached and disciplined team,” Gordon said. “They remind me a lot of Susquehanna Valley, in that they’re going to try to overpower you up front, just line up and run the ball and say, ‘Try to stop us.’ They’re going to pound the ball and then hit you with some misdirection, and hopefully get you sucked into the box and then pop one over the top.”
After this week, the Little Red hits the road for three straight games — Sept. 20 at Corning, Sept. 28 at Union-Endicott and Oct. 5 at Oneonta — before returning home Oct. 11 to face Binghamton.
Elmira Notre Dame will take on Trumansburg after the Crusaders forfeited their opener against Tioga because they did not have enough eligible players. The Crusaders’ roster is up to 20 players, and they plan to finish out the season after the first forfeit loss in team history.
“We’re excited,” Notre Dame coach Mike D’Aloisio said. “It’s been a long preseason.”
Trumansburg opened with a 28-26 home loss against Spencer-Van Etten. The Blue Raiders, who suited up the state-minimum 16 players last week, scored the potential tying touchdown in the the fourth quarter but the two-point conversion attempt failed.
Notre Dame is coming off a 5-3 season in 2012, which included a 46-8 playoff loss to Unatego.
“I think they’re very similar to us,” D’Aloisio said of Trumansburg. “They don’t have great numbers, either. They have a couple of skill kids they try to get the ball to. … They have very good receivers. (Colin) Fellows at quarterback is solid and they have exceptional specialty teams.”
Lansing (0-1) is coming off a hard-fought 21-13 loss to rival Groton in the opener. The Bobcats will take on a Warriors squad (0-1) that also dropped a close one to start the season as it fell to Sidney, 42-40, a week ago.
Groton (1-0) got three touchdowns from all-everything back Zeke Wright — two on runs, one on a kickoff return — in its opening win over visiting Lansing. The Indians will face a B-G team that got blanked, 37-0, at home by Greene last week. Bainbridge-Guilford ran just 19 offensive plays for the game and was outgained, 380-26.
* Elsewhere in Section 4, defending state Class B champion Maine-Endwell puts its 26-game win streak on the line Saturday afternoon against visiting Class AA Binghamton (1-0). The Spartans are coming off a 31-7 defeat of Syracuse Class A school Nottingham (ranked 12th in the state last season) in the Carrier Dome. The Patriots (8-3 last season) opened with a 34-7 victory over Johnson City at Alumni Stadium.