Oct 09, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Happy as the Cicero-North Syracuse football team was to gain the “Star Wars Cup” and reclaim supremacy in its long-standing rivalry with Liverpool, it still remained focused on a larger task ahead.
By coming from behind to beat the Warriors 24-14 last Friday night on hostile ground, the Northstars earned the right to seek the Class AA-1 division championship this Friday at 7 p.m., right at home, against the West Genesee Wildcats.
Still, CNS took enough time to savor the moment. In fact, senior quarterback Steven Ianzito took particular care of the Star Wars Cup as he left the Liverpool turf.
“This (holding the trophy) is the best feeling in the world,” said Ianzito. “I’m not letting it out of my grasp.”
The reason Ianzito, and his teammates, had the trophy was because it did not let this game out of its grasp, even though Liverpool bolted out to a 14-0 lead by the middle of the second quarter and threatened to pull away.
“I just told them to not let this game get away from us,” said head coach Steve Ellis. “These kids battled back and never gave up their hope. Each team will have good and bad moments. The question is, how do you respond to it?”
That response proved to be quite positive, especially after the way Liverpool overcame a fumble on its opening possession and took early command in front of an overflow crowd that packed the Warrior stadium bleachers long before kickoff.
A blocked punt by the Warriors put them deep in CNS territory late in the first quarter, and Dom Caruso’s fourth-down conversion led to his own five-yard touchdown run that gave Liverpool a 7-0 edge.
That Northstar deficit doubled when Liverpool drove 81 yards in the second period, mostly on the legs of quarterback Tyler Kamide. He took off on runs of 23 and 22 yards, the latter of which put the Warriors on the one-yard line, from where Caruso took it home.
Down by two touchdowns, and needing something to provide a spark, CNS got it when Vincent St. James returned the ensuing kickoff to the 44-yard line, giving the team its best field position yet.
Ianzito then led a 56-yard march that got the Northstars on the board. On fourth down from the 22, Ianzito used a perfect pump fake to draw the Liverpool defense into thinking it was a run, then threw deep and found Jeff Falvey wide-open for the touchdown.
Less than three minutes later, CNS got even. From the Warriors’ 43, Ianzito scrambled out of pressure to his left, bought enough time and threw deep. Once again, a receiver was open, in this case Chad Dubiel, and the touchdown made it 14-14.
Despite not converting a pair of turnovers, the Northstars were a confident group going into the locker room. In fact, when they came out for the second half, senior fullback/linebacker Anthony Dolson turned into Joe Namath, guaranteeing his team would win.
Dolson must have known something — for on the first play of the third quarter, Laquan James took a handoff, exploded through a hole on the left side of the line and was never caught, going 62 yards for a touchdown.
“We had to come out with a big play, and we did,” said Ianzito.
Liverpool never really recovered from that blow. Another scoring drive, late in the third quarter, led to Andrew Falvey’s 28-yard field goal that made it a two-possession game.
All through the second half, the Northstars’ success in containing Liverpool’s run game forced the Warriors to throw, something it didn’t want to do — which made it fitting that Artie Cooper’s late interception sealed the victory.
Having done this, CNS (4-2, 3-1 league) can now focus on winning the AA-1 championship. To do so, it must beat at West Genesee squad that has its own feel of destiny, having won three of its five games by three points or less, including last week’s 24-21 overtime thriller at CBA.
Meanwhile, the Warriors, who already have secured a playoff berth, can finish third in the AA-1 division if it wins Friday’s game at Fayetteville-Manlius, who also owns a 2-2 league after beating Utica Proctor 34-13.