When the West Genesee football team first met Cicero-North Syracuse three weeks ago at Bragman Stadium, the game they produced was a pulse-pounding thriller that did not get decided until a field goal in the final seconds.
So naturally when they together again on that exact same CNS turf in the Section III Class AA title game, the exact same thing took place -- except that this time, the Wildcats were a lot happier with the outcome.
Luke Cometti's 20-yard kick through the uprights with one second to play lifted WG to a 23-21 victory over the Northstars and earned the team its first sectional championship since 1988.
"It's awesome," said Cometti. "We're setting a standard for future Wildcat teams to come."
His head coach, Steve Bush, agreed. "It's huge for everybody at West Genesee," he said. "They are getting the recognition and respect they deserve. We couldn't be prouder."
At one point during the post-game celebration, a teammate wrapped the gold-colored championship banner around senior quarterback Tim Moran -- which was fitting, since it was Moran who took the game in his hands when his team looked to be in peril.
WG had seen its 20-14 lead evaporate late in the fourth quarter. Wanting to get some first downs and run out the clock, the Wildcats instead committed couple of costly penalties and moved back near its end zone, from where it had to punt with 2:23 left.
Taking the ball at the Wildcats' 39-yard line, the Northstars used the short field to its advantage. Big runs by Steven Ianzito and Laquan James set up James for an eight-yard sprint to the end zone with 54 seconds to play.
Andrew Falvey's successful extra point put CNS in front, 21-20. Amid the bedlam the home fans were generating, the Wildcats didn't flinch, knowing that it still had all of its time-outs left -- plus a field general in Moran that would not shrink from the moment.