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.