Sep 27, 2006 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
For just a moment, forget all the circumstances — two undefeated teams facing each other, a record crowd of 3,500, the bright lights of a national television spotlight offered by ESPNU — that made Friday night’s football game between Christian Brothers Academy and Corcoran so unique.
What it really boiled down to was that the Brothers’ pride was wounded, and it wanted to show the Cougars, and everyone else, that the holders of the Section III Class AA crown had no intention of stepping down from the throne.
So as all those eyes looked on at Alibrandi Stadium, CBA played close to perfection in the first half and destroyed Corcoran’s short-term ambitions, earning a 42-14 victory, its 55th in a row at home.
Of course, the surroundings could not be ignored. Cars filled up the lots around CBA more than two hours before kickoff, and the stands quickly filled, spilling over to the surrounding fences and hillsides.
By the time the Brothers and Cougars took to the field for the kickoff just after 8 p.m., the noise from both student sections (CBA in purple, Corcoran in maroon) shook the place, and it was difficult for anyone, especially players, not to get caught up in it.
CBA found a way, though. And it was rooted in the events of the previous week, when the Brothers’ defense blew a 20-point lead at West Genesee, only to get bailed out by a power outage that delayed the game for 80 minutes, allowing CBA to regroup — and eventually win.
Nothing was going to keep the Brothers’ defense from shutting down Corcoran’s potent attack — which it would do for most of the night, shutting out Corcoran until the fourth quarter, when the game was well out of reach.
That pressure spilled over into special teams. Corcoran’s raw nerves were exposed when, on two consecutive punt attempts, the snap went way over punter Sean McMahon’s ahead, and he was forced to cover up inside the 20-yard line.
That led to two easy CBA touchdowns — Jovan Miller finishing one drive with a one-yard run, Mike Paulus ending the other by throwing 11 yards to Stephen Pride.
Handed a 14-0 lead, the defense really began to clamp down. Linemen Tarrell Allen, Pete Papayanokos, Steve Modliszewski and Brent Peltz put constant heat on quarterback Darrin Hickson. Linebackers Frank Sweeney, Matt Fennell and Garrett Barnard stayed at home to thwart any Corcoran attempt at a running game.
As if that wasn’t enough, Miller, Leon Saddler and Dan Sisto provided excellent coverage in the secondary, combining speed with physical play to wear down Corcoran’s top-flight receiving corps.
Gradually, the Brothers’ offense began to warm up. Twice, Paulus would find wide-open receivers for touchdowns, hitting Nick Trasolini on a 21-yard strike late in the first quarter, and finding Kevin Didio for a 37-yard scoring pass in the second period.
But it was the defense that would provide the exclamation point. Trailing 28-0, Corcoran drove inside CBA’s 10-yard line as the half wound down.
Here, Hickson attempted to throw a pass to the sideline — but Saddler stepped in front of it and was never caught, a 92-yard dash to the other end zone that made it 35-0 and began to drive some Corcoran fans to the exits.
The Cougars’ frustrations boiled over in the third quarter. On a play near the Corcoran sideline, Miller supposedly hit a runner late. The resulting retaliation led to a scuffle involving dozens of players.
Eventually, both coaching staffs broke up the fight. One CBA player and three from Corcoran were ejected, and the rest of the game went by without further incident.
In much quieter surroundings this Friday, the Brothers visit Baldwinsville at 7 p.m. The Bees, a perennial visitor to the Class AA playoffs, have started 0-4 this fall, losing each of its games by a touchdown or less.