Reaching the ultimate destination - a state championship game - was the only thing the Baldwinsville football team could not quite pull off in its magical 2009 season.
The Bees lost, 28-7, to North Tonawanda Saturday night at Marina Auto Stadium in Rochester, never recovering from a first quarter spent without the man primarily responsible for getting B'ville there.
Malik Burks sat out that period for what head coach Carl Sanfilippo described as a violation of team rules.
Without Burks to add to his 2,785 yards on the ground accumulated in the Bees' 11-0 start, B'ville could not get on the board against a quick, aggressive North Tonawanda defense.
On the defensive side, the Bees missed Burks, too, as the Lumberjacks bolted out 14-0 and would never get caught. Still, Sanfilippo said the temporary absence of Burks did not completely lead to his team's defeat.
"We have no excuses to offer," he said. "They (North Tonawanda) was better.
Indeed, NT, the Section VI champions who made it to its first-ever state final, started to prove its worth when the Bees tried to score on the game's opening drive.
Using Parker Kiff and Ben Paprocki in the backfield, B'ville drove to the Lumberjacks' 35-yard line. But on fourth down, Casey Colligan rolled out - and NT's Sean McDonough sacked him.
From there, the Lumberjacks moved 65 yards to the game's initial score. From the Bees' 28, quarterback Mike Tuzzo threw a quick pass to the wing, and Joe Montesanti took it straight up the middle, through an unoccupied secondary, for the game's first touchdown.
Barely two minutes later, Montesanti struck again, this time taking a handoff at his own 29 and speeding left, past the entire Bees' defense, to the end zone for a 71-yard TD run.
Finally, Burks entered early in the second quarter, but he could not put together the consistent big runs that he had enjoyed all season, NT's defenders fighting past the Bees' vaunted offensive line to make all kinds of key stops.