Aug 31, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Though Cicero-North Syracuse’s football team is a regular visitor to the Section III Class AA playoffs, ultimate success has remained painfully elusive.
Each of the last two seasons, the Northstars have lost post-season games by two-point margins — to West Genesee in the 2007 finals (23-21), then to eventual champion Henninger in the 2008 opening round, a 24-22 decision.
Still, it’s been five straight playoff appearances for CNS. To make it six in a row, a lot will depend on a brand-new offensive line that head coach Steve Ellis calls the key to the team’s ultimate success.
The plan for now is to have 346-pound junior Tawone Williams (he’s dropped 25 pounds since last year) start at tackle, but Ellis said he wants to keep Williams focused on defensive tackle most of the time.
Lawrence Briggs, at center, tips out at 340 pounds, but he might not be ready for Friday’s opener against Henninger, so Jared Thompson (256 pounds) would start. Jorge Cabezas (234 pounds) and Jack Hotaling (211 pounds) are battling at guard, while Ariel Anoceto and Nick Francisco still wait to see who gets the other tackle position.
The line’s first job is to protect senior quarterback Chad Lacey, who started every game in ’08. At 6-2 and 195 pounds, Lacey has bulked up a bit for this season, but is still an equal threat to throw or pass at any time.
Lacey could have a prolific passing attack, with returning wide receivers Austin Hyde and Jaquan Jones, plus a 5-11, 145-pound dynamo in Matt Logudice, who runs precise routes. Xavier Richardson and Sean McKenna add further depth, while two newcomers, Cameron Doray and Matt Strzelecki, share the tight end duties.
With both Anderson Lovell and Artie Cooper gone, Tom Padula inherits the starting tailback spot, as he and backup Blake Monday share similar physical attributes and a similar running style. CNS has no shortage of fullbacks, either, with Anthony Bianchi starting as Corey Barnes and Mike Parody lag close behind.
Two new coaches, Tim Bednarski and Casey Brown, helped defensive coordinator Bill Aldrich in the transition to a 4-3 alignment, which worked to the tune of a 4-0 start in ’08 before injuries hit in the second half of that regular season.
Williams and Briggs make up for the largest pair of defensive tackles in the area, with 285-pound Dylan Buhlotz, in his first season of organized football, offering some support. Doray and Mohammed Nassur start at end, rotating with Strzelecki and Cabezas.
One returning starter, Barnes, moves from middle linebacker to the strong side as Parody takes over the middle. Tyler Downey, fully healed from the broken leg that caused him to miss the ’08 season, is back at outside linebacker, with Bianchi and Nate Henry as backups.
The CNS secondary, like the receiving corps, is a senior-heavy group where Richardson and Jones line up at corner with Logudice. Austin Hyde provided experience at safety, as does McKenna and CBA transfer Anthony Del Coro.
If it’s a close game where field position counts, CNS might be in great shape, thanks to solid special teams and the presence of kicker Andrew Falvey. The senior has hit plenty of big kicks in the past, including a 45-yard field goal in 2008 that broke a school record.
Ellis said that the Class AA-1 division where CNS plays is better than AA-2, thanks to the presence of favorites CBA and Liverpool, both of whom visit Bragman Stadium — the Brothers on Sept. 25, the Warriors in the regular-season finale Oct. 16.
With that in mind, Ellis said every game in the league is important if the Northstars want anther playoff appearance.
“We’re in the stronger league, which will pay off come playoff time,” Ellis said. If that offensive line improves, he added, “we can be in the playoffs and give somebody a