HOMER CITY - Justin Wheeler, your work is cut out for you.
Homer-Center forced seven turnovers and Ean Lee rushed for 109 yards while scoring three touchdowns as the second-seeded Wildcats defeated Bishop Carroll on Saturday night, 28-7, in a District 6 Class A semifinal football playoff game before more than 2,500 fans at Memorial Field.
Homer-Center will face fifth-seeded Bishop Guilfoyle, a 42-10 winner Friday against top-seeded Portage, for the district championship at Mansion Park on Friday. The Wildcats have not won a district football title since 1994.
Wheeler, the coach of the Marauders, had seen enough of the Wildcats on film to know where their strength lies. Last night he took in the district semifinal with his coaching staff, and found out for himself the task that his team faces.
"I knew they were big up front and I knew they've got really good running backs," Wheeler said. "To see them live [I'd say] they're a really good football team."
Bishop Carroll lost six fumbles, and Lee intercepted a pass to account for the Huskies' other turnover. Carroll managed but three plays from scrimmage in the first quarter, by which time Lee's 6-yard scoring run had staked the Wildcats to a 7-0 lead.
"We just didn't come ready to play football," second-year coach Greg Snyder said. "We finally started playing some football when we were down 21-0, just like last week. [But] Homer-Center wasn't going to let us come back. They played their butts off."
Lee's 64-yard touchdown reception on the first play of the second quarter and his 5-yard run later in the period gave Homer-Center a 21-0 lead at halftime.
The Wildcats rolled up 43 of their 213 total yards in the first half.
"Homer-Center's an excellent football team and right now they're winning the battle up front,"said Wheeler after he watched the first half.
Tyler Janosik was limited to 29 rushing yards. He scored the only touchdown for Bishop Carroll (7-5), a 1-yard run in the third period that followed Dan Lesney's 58-yard burst.
Carroll recovered the subsequent onside kick, a move that Page admitted had him worried.
"I thought, 'Oh, boy, they did this last week.'," he said. "I was worried about them coming back. They've got a veteran team, they're well-coached. [But] we held them off."
Six plays later, however, the Huskies' promising drive ended in a lost fumble.
"Every time we'd start moving the ball they'd make a couple of great defensive stops," Snyder said.
"We got up early. We were fortunate. We got a couple of breaks," Page said. "We took their best punch and we were able to hold them off."
The Huskies entered the game with a turnover ratio of only plus-1,
"That's not [very] good," Snyrder said, "especially when you're trying to be a championship team."
Bishop Carroll graduates 15 seniors from a team that finished the year 7-5.
"I can't be more proud of these kids," Snyder said. "My heart goes out to each and every one of [the seniors]."
The Huskies continue to hold the district record for most Class A football championships, seven.,
Page knows Homer-Center will get a stiff test from the Marauders.
'I thought they were outstanding in Portage [Friday] night," Page said. "We've got our work cut out for us. They've got a great team, good athletes, nice size, they move well. It's going to be a challenge for us."
Wheeler said the Marauders' constantly improving run defense gives his team a chance to win.
"Our run defense has been pretty good but it's going to have to be great next week," he said.
The Huskies continue to hold the district record for most Class A football championships, seven.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop Carroll 0 0 7 0 - 7
Homer-Center 7 14 0 7 - 28
HC-Lee, 6 run (Lee kick), 5:14
HC-Lee 64 pass from Berezansky (kick failed), 11:50
HC-Lee 5 run (Mike Newhouse run), 7:10
BC-Tyler Janosik 1 run (Alex Gruss kick), 8:42
HC-Berezansky 6 run (Lee kick), 5:27
RUSHING: Bishop Carroll - Lesney 2-60, Janosik 11-29 )1 TD), Shuty 10-28, Repko 5-18, Lessard 1-6, Woo 2-(-2). Homer-Center Lee 22-109 (2 TD), Berezansky 11-37 (1 TD), Newhouse 9-12, McAdoo 3-(-2), Team 3-(-6).
PASSING: Bishop Carroll - Maruca 3-3-0-43, Woo 1-1-0-18, Shuty 2-9-1-(-6), Frederick 0-1-0-0. Homer-Center - Berezansky 3-4-0-63.
RECEIVING: Bishop Carroll - Janosik 1-23, Shuty 1-18, Noel 1-14, Woo 1-7, Lessard 1-2, Lesney 1-(-13). Homer-Center Lee 2-60 (1 TD), McAdoo 1-3.
INTERCEPTION: HC: Lee 1-0.
TEAM STATISTICS BC HC
First downs 7 12
Rushes-yards 31-139 48-150
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 6-14-1 3-4-0
Yards passing 55 63
Total yards 194 213
Fumbles-lost 6-6 2-1
Penalties-yards 6-41 6-65
Punters: BC: Shuty 2 for 56; HC: Lee, 4 for 105.
Point-after kicks: BC-Gruss 1-1. HC-Lee 2-3.