One less turnover here, and one more big play there, and maybe the Corcoran and Henninger football teams are preparing this week for a city showdown at the Carrier Dome for the Section III Class AA championship.
It did not turn out that way, though, as the Black Knights fell to Christian Brothers Academy 21-20 and the Cougars lost to Baldwinsville 22-15 in the AA semifinals played last Friday night at Cicero-North Syracuse's Bragman Stadium.
That both of these games were close reflected both the close competition within the area and the pattern established the previous weekend by both Henninger and Corcoran.
Those first-round games on Oct. 23 were difficult acts to follow. Henninger had blown a huge fourth-quarter lead against Liverpool with special teams breakdowns, yet had rallied with a last-minute drive to win 40-36. Corcoran had gone through two overtimes, and needed two different blocks of possible go-ahead field goals, to eliminate CNS 27-21.
To reach the final, Henninger, the defending champions, had to get payback against a CBA team that had beat them 35-6 on Sept. 12 at Sunnycrest Field. The Black Knights were a much better team now, and the Brothers had gone through a 1-3 stretch in mid-season before recovering to make its playoff run.
Henninger went to the air and took the early 6-0 lead, Shawn Bryant finding Cole King on three passes for 73 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown strike. CBA immediately countered with a 14-play, 67-yard march that Tyler Hamblin finished off with a three-yard TD run.
Though King would return a punt 77 yards for another TD in the second quarter, he, and the rest of the Henninger offense, struggled in the game's middle stages against a CBA defense that took away the passing options and dared Henninger to run.
A trio of turnovers hurt the Black Knights' cause, too, as a fumble led to a Brothers touchdown in the second quarter and Bryant got intercepted twice in the third period, after CBA extended its lead to 21-12.