With a young roster, but the same high expectations as before, the East Syracuse-Minoa football team went back to the Carrier Dome for last Friday night's Kickoff Classic against Camden.
At the same time, the Spartans' neighbors from Jamesville-DeWitt made its own trip, to New Hartford, believing that the Spartans, with a small roster and many stars departed from 2009, were vulnerable.
For its part, the Spartans came through, surviving a poor start to rally past the Blue Devils 33-28, while J-D again found it rough in the course of a 42-12 loss to those other Spartans.
Of ESM's 11 offensive starters, just one is a senior, and the young Spartan cast would have an uneven first half in the Dome setting amid hot and human conditions.
Camden found the end zone twice in the first quarter, on runs of 13 yards by Jake Clark and seven yards by Joe O'Rourke. In between, the Spartans got on the board when junior quarterback Tyler Johnson found his favorite receiver, Bobby Campese, in the end zone on a 28-yard strike.
So the Spartans were behind, 14-6, and there it stayed until the third period, when the offense started to sparkle.
Jeff McDuffie, the new man at tailback (succeeding Dustin Moss), earned his first varsity touchdown on an eight-yard run early in the half, then caught Johnson's pass for two points to tie the game at 14-14.
After O'Rourke's 18-yard TD pass to Jack Keil put Camden back ahead 21-14, ESM quickly answered, Johnson breaking loose for a 23-yard scoring run. A missed conversion left the Blue Devils clinging to a 21-20 edge.
Right away, ESM got back to the goal line - and Tyler Barton went the last two yards for the TD that put his team ahead for good at 26-21.