Sep 30, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Now the tough part begins for the Cicero-North Syracuse football team — but at least it goes into that daunting stretch with as much momentum and confidence as anyone could possibly attain in four games.
Moving to 4-0 on the season, the Northstars completed a perfect three-week homestand and kept Fayetteville-Manlius winless last Friday night, bashing the Hornets 36-7 at Bragman Stadium.
This sets up a first-place clash in the Class AA-1 division Friday night, when CNS pays a visit to Alibrandi Stadium to face Christian Brothers Academy, who is also 4-0 after fighting past Liverpool 27-20.
In the course of an undefeated September, CNS outscored its four victims (Central Square, Auburn, Utica Proctor, F-M) by a combined 142-33 margin, though it must be noted that none of those four teams have yet to win a game in 2008.
Then again, the Northstars can do little about the quality of its opposition. It can only strive to improve its own picture – which it has done, week by week, in a precise and overwhelming manner.
These teams met twice in 2007. F-M won in the regular season, but CNS got payback in a wet, turnover-filled Section III Class AA semifinal, so there was plenty of recent history to refer to.
CNS came in quite aware of F-M’s o-3 plight, and knew the Hornets would be desperate to turn things around. Thus, from the opening kickoff onward, the Northstars were fully alert, and took quick control.
Twice in the opening period, quarterback Ryan Lacey led scoring drives. Lacey himself finished one march with a one-yard plunge, and the other time Quinton Mitchell converted with an eight-yard touchdown run, which made it 12-0.
Only once did F-M break through against the Northstars’ defense, with a second-quarter drive that culminated when quarterback T.J. Earley ran one yard for the TD.
Otherwise, the Northstars’ defense took the Hornets apart. Jordan Thompson earned Defensive Player of the Game honors with a sack and two other tackles. Thompson, Sean Pease, Artie Cooper and Anderson Lovell applied lots of pressure, overwhelming the smaller F-M offensive line, and any pass attempts by Earley got swatted away by quick and responsive CNS defensive backs.
Andrew Falvey’s 30-yard field goal just before halftime made it 15-7, but CNS saved the big damage for the second half, when it wore down the Hornets on both sides of the ball.
Mitchell scored from one yard out in the third quarter, building the margin to 22-7. Then he returned in the fourth quarter to go 42 yards for his third TD of the night, this after fullback Tom Padula went nine yards for his own TD early in that final period. Mitchell was named the Offensive Player of the Game.
As F-M trudges back home to face defending state Class AA champion West Genesee Friday night, the Northstars hone in on CBA, a giant step up from all of its previous opponents.
With two top-flight running threats in Fajri Jackson and Tom Trasolini, and backed by a ferocious defense that features stars like Andy Phillips, Garrett Barnard and Bryant Moore, the Brothers have worked hard to regain the swagger it enjoyed through so many championship seasons before missing the playoffs in 2007.
And the home-field advantage might prove quite important if conditions are wet and soggy. CNS has only played on artificial surfaces so far, and it remains to be seen how it will adjust to the natural Alibrandi surface in the season’s biggest test.
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