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.