Sep 19, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Maybe the Baldwinsville football team’s odyssey in 2009 will lead to championship glory, or maybe someone else finishes in front.
But if the Bees do reach greatness in its 100th season on the gridiron, it might look to Friday night’s stirring 30-28 victory over Christian Brothers Academy at Alibrandi Stadium as the moment where the magic really took hold.
Plunged into an early 14-point deficit, still behind in the third quarter, and forced to absorb two different comeback attempts from the Brothers in the homestretch, B’ville still pulled through. It was, arguably, the program’s biggest win since reaching the 2002 Section III Class AA finals.
What added to the fun of the win was the way B’ville crashed a big CBA party. It included Homecoming and the official dedication of the new artificial turf at Alibrandi. The Bees, even with its fine 2-0 start, were not expected to interrupt the festivities, as it had never beaten CBA in five tries since the Brothers moved up to Class AA in 2003.
And coming off an impressive 35-6 romp of Henninger, the Brothers tried hard to put B’ville away early.
Expecting CBA’s defense to key in on Malik Burks, the Bees tried to throw early – and that didn’t work, as Niko Manning saw two of his passes intercepted on consecutive possessions, both of them by Dan Patane.
Each turnover led to a CBA touchdown, as John Greacen scored on a one-yard run, set up by Tyler Hamblin’s 27-yard pass to Spencer Dunn. When Hamblin found Fajri Jackson for a four-yard TD pass, B’ville was down 14-0, a deficit it had not faced all season.
Lesser foes, when struck by such a bad start, would crumble – but B’ville would not.
Instead, the Bees turned up the physical play on defense, containing both Jackson and CBA’s vaunted passing game, and giving the Bees a chance to warm up.
Sure enough, Burks’ solid running helped the Bees twice get close to the goal line in the second quarter. Though the Brothers prevented touchdowns, Mark Stanard hit on a pair of field goals, and B’ville only trailed 14-6 at the break.
Starting in the third quarter, Burks hit another level. Of his eventual total of 247 yards, nearly 200 of it came after the break, as the big, imposing Bees’ line, led by Jake Margrey, Matt Moreland and Nick Robinson, wore CBA’s defenders down.
Burks’ two-yard TD run, plus a two-point conversion, tied it at 14-14. Then came the first of a series of big plays that indicated this would be B’ville’s night.
The Bees forced a punt – and Ben Paprocki blocked it, setting the team up in CBA territory. Moments later, Burks scored on a one-yard run, and B’ville had a 21-14 lead.
That didn’t last for along. A long pass from Hamblin to Yosh Karbowniczak set up Jackson’s second TD, a three-yard run,and it was tied again at 21-21.
So it was back to Burks, running at will as the Bees moved to the Brothers’ 24 just as the third quarter came to an end.
Time for another special play – and on the first play of the fourth quarter, Manning threw to the end zone. Despite perfect coverage from CBA’s defenders, Jed Clouston reached up and, with one hand, made a spectacular touchdown catch. The Bees, up 27-21, would never trail again.
When CBA tried to answer, the Bees got yet another big play when Mike Guinta made a one-handed interception on Hamblin’s deep pass near the goal line and returned it to the 20 with 7:36 left.
What followed was a five-minute march that covered 76 yards and included big runs from Manning and Paprocki, both of whom had to step up with Burks nursing a small injury on the sidelines.
When Stanard nailed a 21-yard field goal with 2:38 left, the Bees’ lead grew to 30-21. Just 26 seconds later, the Brothers cut the margin back to two on a 50-yard scoring pass from Hamblin to Jared DePalma.
B’ville couldn’t get the first down needed to run out the clock, so CBA, out of time-outs, got one more chance from its own 32. But the Bees forced a turnover on downs, and the win was secure.
And this was just the opening act of Class AA-2 division play. The second act might be even bigger.
B’ville will host Liverpool at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium Friday night at 6:30, a game with all kinds of drama attached to it beyond the fact that both teams are 3-0.
A season ago, the Bees hosted the Warriors twice – and lost both times, the first game a season opener that featured a third-quarter sideline brawl, the rematch coming in the first round of the Class AA playoffs.
While much of the attention will be on Burks and his Liverpool counterpart, Greg Bell, the Bees’ defense will concentrate on keeping quarterback Cam Jones from hurting them through the air.
Not much is at stake – just neighborhood bragging rights, first place in the league and status as Class AA favorite for the rest of the autumn.