In the middle of the field at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium Friday night, surrounded by Baldwinsville football team members past and present, Carl Sanfilippo basked in the glory of one of the biggest wins in his quarter-century on the Bees' sidelines.
"Football is more than a brutal game," Sanfilippo said. "It's so much more. Tonight showed that."
Indeed, it was a glorious spectacle for anyone affiliated with B'ville as it beat bitter rival Liverpool 27-14 in a highly-anticipated clash of the two remaining undefeated Section III Class AA teams.
From the big plays sprung by a well-balanced offense in the first half to a steady defensive effort to the big runs of Malik Burks down the stretch, everything fell into place for B'ville.
The Bees were out to avenge two painful defeats to Liverpool from 2008. The first one was later forfeited by the Warriors due to the use of an ineligible player, but the second came in the opening round of the AA playoffs, and did count. B'ville wanted payback for it all.
Inspired by the team's huge win at CBA seven days earlier, thousands gathered at Pelcher-Arcaro, filling the bleachers long before kickoff and spilling over to the fence lines surrounding the entire complex.
More important, though, was the presence of dozens of former B'ville players on the sidelines, in town for a reunion to commemorate both the program's 100th season and Sanfilippo's 25 years as head coach.
And they could not have drawn up a better start.
Mark Stanard's low opening kickoff got mishandled by the Warriors, and Louis Eron recovered it on Liverpool's 30-yard line. Quarterback Niko Manning then delivered two rollout passes to Ben Messmer, the latter going 10 yards for a touchdown.
Down 7-0, Liverpool answered quickly, going to the Bees' 34-yard line and, on fourth-down-and-inches, surprising the hosts with a pass pay as Cam Jones went deep - and found Ethan Van Morter in the end zone to tie it, 7-7.