Sep 01, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
When it comes to Christian Brothers Academy’s football team, winning — and winning a lot — is part of the plan.
For a decade, that winning plan included a long string of undefeated regular seasons, Section III championships at four different class levels, and a state Class AA title in 2004.
All this history and all this recent success, helped make the 2007 season a shock for followers of the Brothers — and a delight for its opponents.
CBA went 3-4 in the regular season, never recovering from the early-season injury to top quarterback Dan Sisto and missing the sectional AA playoffs outright. And though the Brothers did win both of its crossover games to finish 5-4, the damage had been rendered.
“Last year was a stunner,” said head coach Joe Casamento. “That just doesn’t happen to us. We know how to win, and we’ve done what it takes to get back there to the top.”
Mainly, the Brothers’ task in the off-season was to gain maturity. When it takes the field Saturday for its opener at Henninger, CBA will have 17 juniors on its roster, many of them having gone through a rough baptism in ’07.
One thing the Brothers have in its favor is the rare luxury of having three different men capable of starting at quarterback.
When Sisto went out, Jared DePalma and Tyler Hamblin took snaps under center. Now DePalma, a junior, and Hamblin, a sophomore, have company on the depth chart thanks to Joey Battaglia, a talented passer up from the JV ranks. Any one of the three could start, and Casamento said it’s likely at least two of them will get on the field before the season is over.
CBA takes particular pride in the wide receivers it has turned out, with three of them — Lavar Lobdell, Bruce Williams and Marcus Sales — sitting atop the Syracuse University football depth chart at this point, a rarity for any single school to pull off.
Without a star like that, the Brothers will make up for it with sheer numbers in its trademark spread offense, where four receivers line up. Doug Bailey, Bryant Moore, Andrew Scanlon and Lawrence VanDerBogart are at the front of this pack, with Trey Williams also likely to see some time.
The Brothers should have a first-rate running attack, with Tom Trasolini and Fajri Jackson both returning. Since Trasolini has the experience edge here, Jackson could move to wide receiver, but both are likely to catch lots of passes this fall anyway.
A pair of starters are back on the offensive line, as Andy Phillips (283 pounds) plays tackle and Ted Barrett, all 320 pounds of him, could push people around at left guard.
At center, 250-pound Macky McPherson, grandson of SU coaching great Dick McPherson, steps in, while Greg Thompson (228 pounds) takes over at right guard and Chris Bersani (245 pounds) fits in at right tackle on one of the biggest lines in the area.
Some questions remain on defense, especially the line, where Phillips, Thompson, Bersani, Stew Hancock and Andrew Frazier all are likely to fit into the rotation, but none stand out at this point.
But there isn’t any question about Garrett Barnard at linebacker, a senior and team captain, and just the latest in a long line of fine CBA players at this position. Will Chapman is also back at linebacker, while Moore could step in here, too, if he isn’t in the secondary.
Moore, perhaps the Brothers’ most versatile player, and Jackson will create big match-up problems, part of a deep corps of cornerbacks that include all the receivers CBA has lined up. Williams returns to start at safety, flanked by senior Jay Petosa.
With enough returning pieces at most positions, CBA could quickly rise back to the top, especially if the quarterback situation gets settled. Casamento said his players have matured a lot in the off-season and will approach 2008 with more confidence and poise — plus a desire to restore the winning pattern.