Nov 07, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Baldwinsville’s long exile from the top of the Section III Class AA football is finally over.
As much as the Bees have won in the regular season and playoffs since that last title was claimed in 1989, it could never take that last step to the top. Not, that is, until Saturday afternoon in the Carrier Dome.
The powerful running of Malik Burks, combined with a defense that was close to perfect in the second half, produced a 30-12 victory over Christian Brothers Academy in the Class AA championship game at the Carrier Dome.
How fitting that, in the 100th season of B’ville football and 25th year of head coach Carl Sanfilippo’s tenure, a 20-year stretch without a sectional banner would end.
Still, said Sanfilippo, the true measure of a football program’s success is not in wins or losses, but in what they do once the games are done.
“The important thing is not winning championships,” he said. “We have figured out that what we do is prepare people for their future and to have people contribute to society.”
But the wins are nice, too, and for this, the biggest B’ville win in two decades, it was fitting that tailback Malik Burks carried the heaviest load – which he had to do in the absence of injured quarterback Niko Manning.
Burks carried the ball 43 times for 243 yards, helping the Bees overcome a 12-8 halftime deficit and, gradually, wear down the Brothers, a team it rallied to beat 30-28 back on Sept. 18 at Alibrandi Stadium.
Working behind the blocks of linemen Nick Alenciewicz, Jake Margrey, Nick Robinson, Matt Moreland, Curtis Stanard and Ryland Jennings, Burks kept grinding out gains against a CBA defense bent on containing him.
The pattern was set on B’ville’s opening drive. Burks covered most of the 67 yards on one big run, a 52-yard burst where he started right, then turned left and followed his blocks toward the goal line. Burks went the final yard for the touchdown, and Casey Colligan threw a two-point pass to Andrew Redmond.
Burks made just one mistake. Late in the opening period, the Bees were ready to expand its 8-0 lead when Burks fumbled at the Brothers’ five-yard line and Mike Magnarelli recovered.
CBA then drove 95 yards, most of it on long gains by Fajri Jackson and John Dunmore. Jackson went the final eight yards for the TD as the first quarter ended, cutting the margin to 8-6.
Quarterback Tyler Hamblin found Dunmore again for a 37-yard gain on the Brothers’ next possession, and moments later Hamblin hit Yosh Karbowniczak in the end zone for an eight-yard TD strike, pushing CBA ahead 12-8, where it stayed until halftime.
So the Brothers were in front, just like in September. And according to Sanfilippo, this didn’t faze the Bees one bit.
“This is a steady group of kids that doesn’t get flustered,” he said.
B’ville slightly altered its defensive alignment, and it threw CBA off course. Hamblin, who was nine-for-12 for 136 yards through the air in the first half, had just five completions on 15 attempts after the break, pressured by the likes of Robinson, Margrey, Alenciewicz, Nate Stoughtenger, Raeshaun Jones and Steve Mitchell.
Yet it was two punt plays that permanently swung the game in the Bees’ favor.
Karbowniczak hit a seven-yard punt off the side of his foot midway through the third quarter, setting up a short field that B’ville exploited. Six tough runs by Burks set up Colligan for a one-yard TD sneak, and the Bees had a 15-12 lead.
As the period ended, CBA went for it on fourth down at the Bees’ 45-yard line, and didn’t make it.
That gamble really backfired when the Bees were forced to punt on its next possession. Spencer Dunn muffed that kick, and Eric Tommarello recovered on the Brothers’ 25.
Three plays later, Burks sped 23 yards near the goal line on B’ville’s patented draw play, and he scored on a one-yard run with 8:04 left to make it 22-12. Burks would earn a third touchdown with 2:41 to play, set up by Mike Guinta’s interception and 29-yard return.
Colligan played a steady, calm game in Manning’s absence, and might be needed again when B’ville faces Section IV champion Union-Endicott in the Class AA regional finals next Saturday at Vestal High School near Binghamton.
That game, which will start at 5 p.m., will determine who advances to the state semifinals Nov. 21 at Marina Auto Stadium in Rochester against North Tonawanda or Webster Schroeder.
This is the first time B’ville has ever competed in the state championship tournament, which started in 1993. The Bees will attempt to become the fourth Section III team to claim a state Class AA title in six years, joining CBA (2004), Auburn (2006) and West Genesee (2007) in that highest possible realm.