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.