Northstars drop opener to Henninger

High quantities of positive energy spread around Bragman Stadium Friday night when Blake Monday received the opening kickoff of the Cicero-North Syracuse football team's 2009 season.

And when Monday tore through the Henninger special teams and nearly found the end zone on his 81-yard return, there was every reason to believe the Northstars were on its way to a big night.

That didn't prove to be the case, though.

The Black Knights held CNS to a field goal, and the hosts didn't score again until the fourth quarter as Henninger prevailed by a score of 27-10.

Now was the chance to catch Henninger in a vulnerable spot. The defending Section III Class AA champions lost most of its starting lineup to graduation following 2008, and were breaking in a brand-new backfield.

A six or seven-point deficit may have given the Black Knights more to think about - but after Monday's big return, the Black Knights' defense held just short of the goal line, and CNS had to settle for Andrew Falvey's 19-yard field goal.

In truth, both sides made a long list of physical and mental mistakes that are typical of a football opener. The difference was that, amid the errors, Henninger also made some big plays.

Early in the second quarter, the Black Knights took the lead for good when Shawn Bryant, succeeding Kihary Blue at quarterback, threw deep and found Shaqueal Rowser for a 55-yard touchdown pass.

Later in the period, Henninger drove to the Northstars' four-yard line, from where Reggie Robinson scored, making it 14-3 going into halftime.

Henninger salted it away in the third quarter. Bryant threw two more TD passes - 16 yards to Rouser, then a 59-yard strike to tight end Richard Neal, who took a screen pass and got great blocks on his way to the end zone.

Not until the final minutes, when Anthony Fiorini threw a 26-yard TD pass to Tom Padula, did CNS get on the board again.

Lots of work will be done in practice before the Northstars visit Utica Proctor Friday night at 6:30. The Raiders, 1-8 a season ago, stunned rival Rome Free Academy 40-30 in its opener, indicating that a big turnaround might be at hand.

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