Though still young, and still learning in many spots, the Christian Brothers Academy football team is slowly regaining that unmatched confidence that only comes when someone wins with regularity.
By making the plays it needed to down the stretch, the Brothers kept itself unbeaten and kept Fayetteville-Manlius without a victory last Friday night at Alibrandi Stadium, prevailing by a score of 26-16.
A large crowd turned out at Alibrandi for CBA's Homecoming, bearing witness to two teams on completely opposite paths as Class AA-1 division play got underway. With its 2-0 start after wins over Henninger and Baldwinsville, the Brothers (no. 11 in the first state Class AA rankings of the season) were in good spirits.
By contrast, F-M, had lost to Binghamton and Henninger to start 0-2. The Hornets had proven in years past that it could overcome tough starts -- but with the strength of the AA-1 league, it could ill afford similar behavior this time around.
On its opening drive, CBA went to the air, as sophomore quarterback Tyler Hamblin threw at will to test the Hornets' secondary. That proved successful until, at F-M's five-yard line, Hamblin threw into end-zone traffic -- and Mike O'Neil intercepted.
Fueled by that stop, F-M kept the shutout going into the second quarter. More importantly, it established a ground game against CBA's highly-touted defense. Matt Taylor's big gains set up Dan Costa for a 31-yard field goal early in the second quarter that put F-M up 3-0.
Now CBA went to the ground, something Henninger's Greg Spears had done the week before to the tune of 247 yards against the Hornets' defense.
In this case, Fajri Jackson carried the load. Four straight times, he got the ball, capping it with a 30-yard touchdown run that featured several broken tackles. On CBA's next possession, after Tom Trasolini broke loose for a 26-yard gain, Jackson scored again on a tough 19-yard run to make it 12-3.