Impressive as it was in its opening statement of the 2008 season, the Christian Brothers Academy football team was expected to show even more strength and dominance when it returned to Alibrandi Stadium for last Friday night's home opener against Baldwinsville.
What the Brothers may not have counted on, though, was the level of fight and determination the Bees would show.
The outcome proved to be in doubt until late in the fourth quarter, and the amount of work CBA had to use to beat B'ville 28-20 might prove beneficial in the long run.
Few people expected such a battle. CBA had blanked Henninger 21-0 the week before, the kind of all-around performance (especially on defense) that only raises expectations as the Brothers aimed at bouncing back from missing the Class AA playoffs in 2007.
Meanwhile, B'ville was in an odd position. It had lost 32-12 to Liverpool in its Sept. 5 opener, but might get credit for a victory because it was discovered that the Warriors used an ineligible transfer player who was past the legal high-school playing age of 19.
Whatever the record stated, the Bees would play the first half against CBA without its talented junior running back, Malik Burks, who served a suspension for his role in a sideline brawl during the third quarter of the Liverpool game. An offensive lineman also sat out the first half.
CBA, to no one's surprise, bolted out to a 14-0 lead. Again emphasizing the run game, the Brothers saw Tom Trasolini score from eight yards out in the first period, then watched Trasolini break loose for an 80-yard touchdown run in the second period. Doyle Judge hit on both extra points.
Down 14-0, and without Burks until the second half, B'ville could have grown discouraged. Instead, it hit back, driving to CBA's 16-yard line and getting on the board through the air when Niko Manning hit Jed Clouston in the end zone and Jeff Pond kicked the extra point.