If the Christian Brothers Academy football team wanted to demonstrate that it could handle the big event and a big-name opponent, then it could not have picked a better setting.
Here were the Brothers, going east to face Rome Free Academy Friday night, and doing so on an evening where RFA dedicated its field to long-time head coach Tom Hoke, who won 210 games and whose teams dominated large-school football in Central New York in the 1980s and '90s.
Despite that pageantry, and despite a large and hostile crowd, CBA came through once more, as an all-out effort, especially on defense, helped create a 14-7 victory over the Black Knights.
That win helped the Brothers, no. 14 in the latest state Class AA rankings, improve to 6-0 - and it sets up next Friday's Class AA-1 division championship showdown with 6-0 Baldwinsville at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium.
At the least, CBA will go to B'ville feeling quite confident about its defense. All the Brothers did at RFA was hold the Black Knights to a scant 61 yards in the first three quarters - and it needed to be that good.
That was because the Brothers kept falling short on scoring drives. Time after time, CBA drove into RFA territory, only to have something go wrong, allowing the Black Knights to hang close much of the night.
CBA caught some breaks, too, especially late in the first quarter when RFA's Anthony D'Urso returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown - only to have it called back on an illegal block penalty that the Black Knights vehemently protested.
Another break came when RFA fumbled at its own 37-yard line in the second quarter. The Brothers recovered and, moments later, Tyler Hamblin scrambled right, threw deep and found Evan Adamo open in the end zone for the only touchdown of the first half.