Oct 15, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Everything, it seemed, was working against the Christian Brothers Academy football team Friday night – the opponent, the location, the playing surface and the brutal conditions.
No way, the prevailing logic went, could the Brothers knock off Baldwinsville. Not at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium. Not on a grass field churned into pudding by a day full of rain, with gusty winds blowing up to 25 miles per hour to add to the difficulty. And not against a Bees squad that was no. 3 in the state Class AA rankings, had knocked off its last 17 Section III foes and featured the most imposing ground game and offensive line in Central New York.
Yet when the game was done and the clock hit zero, it was the guys in white, purple, gold and brown (from all the mud) celebrating a 14-10 victory over B’ville and a Class AA-1 division regular-season championship – and it was the home team in red trudging off in disappointment.
Of all the titles claimed by CBA in head coach Joe Casamento’s 11-year tenure (which has included 106 wins and a boatload of sectional championships, plus a state crown in 2004), this might be the most exceptional because it was so unexpected.
Other than senior quarterback Tyler Hamblin and a handful of other starters, the Brothers did not have a lot of experienced players on hand when the 2010 season got underway. And even when the wins started to pile up, points did not come at a rate comparable to other CBA teams of the past, and injuries, such as that to Cirro Nicoletti-Watson, lengthened the odds of success.
CBA adjusted, though, and by the time it came to B’ville, it had two totally dependable items – Hamblin running the offense, and a ferocious defense that could shut down any opponent, even one as imposing as the Bees.
Both were on display in the first half, especially the defensive part. From Dan Predmore, Jonathan McGriff and Mike Magnarelli on the line, to linebackers Greg Thomson and Joey Pascarella, to defensive backs like Sam Kelley, Anthony Bunn, Dan Patane and Vince Russo, CBA never let B’ville’s star sophomore tailback, Tyler Rouse, get anything started. Rouse carried the ball 30 times, but had just 82 yards.
Meanwhile, Hamblin deftly put together a first-quarter drive. On fourth-down-and-two from the B’ville 27-yard line, Hamblin went to the end zone and found Jack Pfohl for the game’s first touchdown. Riley Dixon’s extra point made it 7-0.
Late in the second period, Magnarelli recovered a Casey Colligan fumble on the Bees’ 27. Again with a short field, Hamblin cashed in, running the last 10 yards for the score less than a minute before halftime. CBA went to the break ahead 14-0 and in a charged-up mood, ready to put the Bees away.
But in the third quarter, B’ville began to push back, helped in no small part by three CBA turnovers in the most beat-up part of the field, which the Bees would use to make things close again.
After Rouse got stopped on fourth down at the CBA six following Dave Middlemore’s interception, the Brothers took over – but Hamblin fumbled, and Bunn was forced to recover in the end zone for a safety. Minutes later, another fumble, this time inside the 10-yard line, was pounced on by Collin Twombly, and led to Colligan scoring on a one-yard sneak to make it 14-8.
From there, though, the Brothers’ defense again took over. Numerous times in the second half, B’ville had the ball in CBA territory, only to leave without points. By far, the biggest stop came with 1:28 to play when, on fourth down inside the CBA 25, Pascarella sacked Colligan.
Though Hamblin took an intentional safety with 18 seconds left to cut the margin to four, it did not matter as he came out on defense and intercepted Colligan’s last-ditch pass to secure the victory – and CBA’s league title.
Now the Brothers get to return to the clean turf of Alibrandi Stadium next Friday to face West Genesee in the first round of the Class AA playoffs, while B’ville is home to face Corcoran, the third-place finisher in the AA-2 division. Should CBA win, it would face Utica Proctor or Rome Free Academy in the semifinals, while the Bees hope to advance to face Fayetteville-Manlius or Liverpool.