In a season full of multiple climaxes, the Cicero-North Syracuse football team appears ahead for another defining moment.
The Northstars' 28-17 home victory over West Genesee last Friday night was its second in a row, giving the team as much momentum as it could want going into this Friday's battle with unbeaten Christian Brothers Academy at Bragman Stadium.
Just as importantly, it showed that CNS carried no hangover from its epochal two-day, power outage-delayed overtime victory over Auburn on Sept. 22-23 that saved the team's post-season hopes.
With a shorter week of preparation that it had planned on, the Northstars would allow the struggling Wildcats from Camillus to hang around for a while.
Laquan James scored on a pair of two-yard touchdown runs in the first half, bouncing right back from his quiet Auburn showing.
However, all that netted CNS was a 14-14 halftime tie, for WG, playing without star running back Greg Whipple, still managed as Ben Waldron scored on a 26-yard run and quarterback Chris Aubertine dove one yard for the other TD.
Just when it was needed, though, the big plays came back.
Greg Larioni, fresh off throwing for 381 yards against Auburn, put CNS ahead for good, 21-14, when he threw 50 yards to his favorite receiver, Steven Ianzito. For the night, Larioni was quite accurate, going 10-for-12 for 164 yards.
And when Luke Cometti's 33-yard field goal pushed the Wildcats closer, James closed things out by running 35 yards for his third TD of the night. All told, James had 23 carries for 155 yards.
Nick Blumer paced CNS's defense in the second half, making two key interceptions. Kicker Jamie Praino made all three of his extra points, one of them a rare 45-yard PAT after a series of penalties.
All of these good elements -- the big plays on offense, a stellar defense, and flawless special teams -- must be in place if the Northstars are to have a chance against CBA.
The Brothers have won 53 consecutive regular-season games, plus the last two Section III Class AA titles. This game features a great QB showdown between Larioni and fellow senior Mike Paulus, and is also a showcase for top runners James and Jovan Miller.