Thousands turned out at Liverpool High School Friday night to witness an event nearly three years in the making as the football Warriors had its long-awaited home opener against Baldwinsville.
Amid the pageantry and noise, the Warriors got off to a near-perfect start - but could not sustain it as the Bees, no. 3 in the state Class AA rankings, prevailed by a score of 47-20.
Fans lined up more than an hour before kickoff, then quickly filled the new bleachers as both teams warmed up. Around 6:30, the festivities got underway with a parade featuring most of Liverpool's fall sports teams.
Then school superintendent Dr. Richard Johns spoke to the crowd, saying that this new facility will benefit students now and in the future.
"It's a happy night for Liverpool and a happy night for our kids," Johns said.
State Senator John DeFrancisco also made brief remarks, as did Assemblyman Al Stirpe, and DeFrancisco participated in the pre-game coin toss as fans continued to stream in on a cool, clear fall evening.
Then, just a few minutes after 7 p.m., Vincent Gordon kicked the ball off, and for a few fleeting minutes everything went right for the Warriors.
First, Liverpool's defense made a fourth-down stop near midfield. Then tailback Tyland Thompson broke loose on a 43-yard run inside the Bees' 10-yard line, setting up Elijah Johnson for a five-yard touchdown run.
Leading 7-0 after Connor Rogers' extra point, the Warriors continued to surge when, on B'ville's next play from scrimmage, Ben Paprocki fumbled and Rogers recovered.
On the very next play, Thompson broke loose on the right side, going into the end zone on a 21-yard run, the Warriors' second TD in 17 seconds, and the noise level from Liverpool partisans only grew.
But that would be the high point. From that moment forward, B'ville asserted its will, mainly thanks to a mammoth offensive line that controlled the line of scrimmage - and to the spectacular effort of sophomore tailback Tyler Rouse.