Football Bees bent on ending two-year slump

What has gone on in the last two seasons with the Baldwinsville football team is something head coach Carl Sanfilippo can hardly recognize.

"We weren't us the last couple of years," he said.

Instead of winning records and routine Section III Class AA playoff apperances, the Bees have, instead, languished at the bottom, only able to go 2-5 in the regular season in 2007, tied for fifth with Central Square in the Class AA-2 division.

To reclaim its past glory, B'ville has, in 2008, put together a 46-man varsity roster brimming with young talent everywhere -- but also faces an urgent need to make the offense a bit more balanced.

Almost by himself, running back Malik Burks made the Bees relevant as a sophomore in '07, topping 1,600 yards on the ground by the time crossover games were done.

"He's every strong, physical and has got good field vision," said Sanfilippo. "He can make you miss."

The aim, said Sanfilippo, is for Burks to get 20 to 25 carries a game, but also to give him a breath once in a while with backs like Mike Crowley and Bo Watson.

Just as important, though, is the Bees' need to get its passing game to perform. Otherwise, said Sanfilippo, opposing defenses will put eight players on the line of scrimmage to try and stop Burks.

This means that junior quarterback Nick Manning, who saw varsity action as a sophomore last year, is in the spotlight. Manning is an equal threat to run or throw, and he's got wide receiver Dan Lang back for his senior camapign, helped by A.J. Wood, Mike Guinta and Andrew Redman.

Big tight end Evan Twombly has departed, meaning that Jake Turner and Dan Cuddy, who sat behind him a season ago, have a chance to step into a starring offensive role.

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