For the Christian Brothers Academy football team in 2008, nothing less than a complete restoration of its dynasty is acceptable.
Though it fielded a young roster last fall and went through lots of injuries, the Brothers' 5-4 record was still a shock to fans accustomed to undefeated regular seasons and championships of various kinds.
So with lots of determination and focus, CBA announced its intentions last Saturday with a commanding defensive performance and a relentless running game in a 21-0 victory over Henninger at Sunnycrest Field.
Even though the Black Knights had plenty of team speed in the form of skill players Greg Spears, Chris Gainey and Shaquille Leggett, it also had an inexperienced quarterback in Kihary Blue and a young, small offensive line that had to break in.
That proved to be dangerous against the ferocious Brothers' defense. Up front, highly-touted 288-pound senior Andy Phillips led the way, at times bowling over linemen to get to the backfield to make plays, with Greg Thomson and Chris Bersani providing the main support.
Linebackers Garrett Barnard, John Greacen and Will Chapman made just as many forays into the backfield, creating tackles for losses whenever they weren't blocked. Bryant Moore, Tre Williams and John Petosa led a strong secondary effort.
All through pre-season practice, head coach Joe Casamento juggled the quarterback situation, debating whether to start sophomore Tyler Hamblin or junior Jared DePalma -- and he had a third QB, Joey Battaglia, close behind.
In the end, Hamblin got the start, with DePalma seeing extensive action late in the third quarter. Regardless of who took the snaps, though, CBA mostly chose to run the ball -- a far cry from the pass-happy spread offense that made the Brothers famous in recent years.
And though Henninger did a good job containing that ground game for a while, CBA took a 7-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter when Tom Trasolini scored from five yards out. A dropped punt snap at the Black Knights' 35-yard line set up the touchdown.