Two long months ago, Christian Brothers Academy's football team met up with West Genesee in a pre-season scrimmage. In the course of that gathering, the Brothers struggled, and learned plenty about what it still needed to do in order to improve.
Just how much CBA had improved became quite evident to the Wildcats when the two sides reunited Friday night at Alibrandi Stadium in the opening round of the Section III Class AA playoffs. With big plays on one side and a crunching defense on the other side, the Brothers roared to a 54-6 victory and moved to 8-0 on the season.
And with that win, the Brothers advanced to next Saturday's AA semifinals, where it will face Utica Proctor at 4 p.m. at Cicero-North Syracuse's Bragman Stadium. The Raiders knocked off long-time rival Rome Free Academy 42-28 in its opening-round game. CBA and Proctor are battling for a spot against Fayetteville-Manlius or Baldwinsville in the Nov. 7 title game in the Carrier Dome.
WG, following a 1-4 start, had won its last two games of the regular season to sneak into the playoffs and, with a potent passing game, carried the belief that it could solve the Brothers' defensive riddle. But it took just one quarter of play for CBA to dispel any upset plans.
On its second possession following a short WG punt, the Brothers moved to the Wildcats' 31-yard line, where Tyler Hamblin threw long and found Manny Collins, who went the rest of the way for the game's first touchdown.
Moments later, Dan Patone intercepted Matt Naton's pass, setting up a short field for CBA. A series of runs led to Hamblin going two yards for the TD, which made it 14-0, but the Brothers were only beginning its assault on the scoreboard.
Tailback Anthony Bunn, in particular, took over. Just before the first quarter ended, Bunn took a handoff and tore through the Wildcats' secondary on a 47-yard sprint to the end zone, expanding CBA's lead to 20-0. Then, in the second period, Bunn scored twice more on long runs - one covering 46 yards, the other going 24 yards.