All that the Cicero-North Syracuse football program has ever wanted lies directly in front of them.
Not only do the Northstars have a chance to win its first-ever Section III Class AA title, it can do so within the familiar surroundings of Bragman Stadium.
Taking that last step to Saturday's championship game against West Genesee was far from easy. It required patience, persistence and all sorts of late-game magic for the Northstars to beat Fayetteville-Manlius 16-13 in last Friday's semifinal at Henninger High School's Sunnycrest Field.
The game featured blocked kicks, turnovers, a heavy rain that made every play a nervous one, two different CNS comebacks in the fourth quarter, a fight to the final seconds -- and just to make it complete, a power outage that may have proven to be fortuitous.
It began, though, as a simple story of CNS wanting payback. The last time it suffered defeat, it did so at the expense of F-M, a 28-14 decision on Sept. 12 where the Northstars led 14-0 early, only to see it slip away -- a trend it would reverse in late-season rallies against Liverpool and West Genesee that produced a league championship.
All those rescue jobs would serve as an inspiration for CNS when things got choppy in the F-M rematch.
Unlike the first meeting, the Hornets charged in front, using its power running attack to move to the Northstars' six-yard line, from where Matt Fallico scored to put F-M in front 7-0.
CNS offered a quick answer late in the first quarter, driving to the Hornets' 11 before the drive stalled. Andrew Falvey hit a 28-yard field goals, and the Northstars were on the board.
Yet it all looked to be going the Hornets' way when, nearly four minutes into the second quarter, it moved to the CNS 16-yard line, ready to go up by double digits.