Those that figured the first-place Class AA-1 league football showdown between West Genesee and Christian Brothers Academy would turn on defense were correct, as it turned out.
They just had the wrong defense in mind.
Forcing no less than seven turnovers, five of them in the third quarter alone, the Wildcats rode that defense to a 28-22 victory over the Brothers last Friday night, which offered redemption for the defending state Class AA champions.
When WG, 4-0 and sitting atop the state rankings, took a stunning 47-37 defeat against previously winless Fayetteville-Manlius on Oct. 3, it raised alarms everywhere -- except with the Wildcats themselves.
Wildcats head coach Joe Corley said that, in the week leading up to the CBA game, he kept things positive and focused on the basics his players might have started to let slide -- things like tackling, for example.
"A loss can be the best thing that can happen to a football team," said Corley. "As a result, we worked hard this week, and our guys were a lot more focused and confident. They came out flying."
Indeed, the Wildcats slammed the door on CBA's offense in each of the Brothers' first three possessions, offering a hint at the turnover barrage to come when Josh Phillips intercepted Jared DePalma's first pass of the night.
Of course, CBA has a pretty fair defense of its own, having shut out the likes of Henninger and Cicero-North Syracuse this season. All through the first quarter, the Brothers managed to put pressure on quarterback Jim Marks while, at the same time, effectively covering WG's dangerous posse of receivers.
It was still 0-0 when, midway through the second quarter, CBA head coach Joe Casamento switched his quarterbacks. Tyler Hamblin, recovered from his sore shoulder, replaced DePalma, and promptly marched his team 73 yards to the game's first score, a 12-yard touchdown pass from Hamblin to Doug Bailey on fourth down.