Though the point is to play in the Carrier Dome in November, the East Syracuse-Minoa football team didn't mind an early visit - and took full advantage.
From the hard running of Dustin Moss to the hard work of a tough and relentless defense, the Spartans had every answer for Mexico and delvered a 23-0 shutout of the Tigers Friday night in the Kickoff Classic at the Dome.
ESM started the 2009 season determined to avoid the early Section III Class A playoff exits it suffered at the hands of New Hartford each of the last two years.
To get that chance, it was important to start quickly - and with a Class A American division test against Mexico, the Spartans immediately found itself in league play, and did quite well.
Moss again proved durable and productive, getting 201 rushing yards before the night was done, all behind a brand-new offensive line that physically overwhelmed Mexico's defenders.
In the first quarter, Moss put ESM on the board with a one-yard touchdown run. He then proved adept in the kicking game with a 26-yard field goal in the second quarter.
Meanwhile, the Spartans' passing game came to life behind its new quarterback, Tyler Johnson. His 40-yard strike to Bobby Campese set up the Moss field goal, and Johnson added a four-yard TD pass to Jake Curtis just before halftime to make it 17-0.
That lead proved quite safe, thanks to the work on the other end of the ball.
From Jamie Landry, Eric Cushing and Conner Haynes on the front line, to linebackers like Moss, Jake Curtis and Connor Fitzpatrick, to the work of Sharif Nero, Ken Cannon and Nick Caperalli in the secondary, ESM kept turning back the Tigers.
And as the defense continually bottled up any Mexico attempt to get on the board, Moss added a final blow in the fourth quarter when he got loose for a 66-yard sprint to the end zone.
The Spartans go for two in a row Friday when it makes its longest road trip of the season to Cortland. The Purple Tigers, off a 6-2 campaign a season ago, lost a wild 35-28 decision to rival Homer in its opener, despite quarterback Shane McCaskill throwing three touchdown passes and running for another.