Aug 27, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Two decades passed for the Baldwinsville football team before it could return to the top of the Section III Class AA ranks. Now the Bees are after a third championship in a row.
Having gone a combined 21-3 in the last two years on the way to back-to-back sectional and regional AA titles, B’ville’s quest for a three-peat hinges on whether new faces on the offensive and defensive lines can be as good as the one before them.
This is especially true on the offensive line. Nick Robinson, the 2010 Central New York Player of the Year, is gone, as is Jake Margrey, Matt Moreland and Ryland Jennings. Together, they dominated the line of scrimmage, tore open holes and helped two great running backs, Malik Burks and Tyler Rouse, put up a combined 5,000-plus yards on the ground.
Head coach Carl Sanfiliippo said this line was so good because they were together for three seasons and, with all that experience, “they were on the same page.”
Only one starter remains – senior Joe Tanguay, who lines up at guard. He’s joined by fellow seniors Scott Orr at guard and Luke Earle at center. Two juniors, Dave Sawatzke and Maurice Bouvia, settle into the tackle spots.
“They’ll be pretty good,” said Sanfilippo. “They just need some experience on the field.”
The line’s main task is to clear the way for Rouse, who has a more intense spotlight on him than any other returning player in Central New York. Despite missing most of two games due to injury, his spectacular sophomore campaign involved 1,987 yards and 25 touchdowns.
It wasn’t just the production, though. It was the way Rouse picked up those yards. At just 5-8 and 185 pounds, he possesses the rare combination of toughness and speed, equally adept at breaking tackles and running away from defenders in the open field.
Sanfilippo said it’s important that Rouse is buying into the team concept, and there’s plenty of backs available to ease the burden, from proven senior Ben Paprocki to talented sophomore Ricky Sparks, who was impressive in the scrimmage against Auburn. Plus, there’s three fullbacks – Jim Lang, Matt Hartwell and Matt Paddock – available to block.
Even with so great a running game, the Bees intend to pass more this fall. Augie Zona takes over at quarterback for the departed Casey Colligan. Zona, a senior, excels at play-action passes and has enough speed to take off if receivers are not open.
However, B’ville has no shortage of experience at receiver, where Shay Sargent and Tyler Russell both return. Expect a lot of throws to go to 6-2 twin brothers Carter and Collin Twombly, who will split time at tight end.
B’ville should be strong defending the pass, too. Paprocki enters his third season as a starting cornerback, and Anthony returns at safety as Sargent succeeds Antonio Peck on the other corner.
Rouse, despite all the work he’ll get on offense, also is starting at linebacker, part of a strong quartet that includes Lang and both Twombly brothers, with Carter inside and Collin outside.
Again, the big questions are up front, with all four starters (Robinson, Margrey, Mark Stanard and Nate Stoughtenger) gone. Paddock and Julian Pollock are the new ends, with Paddock and 280-pound sophomore Jakeith Jackson at defensive tackle.
Knowing the bulls-eye that they possess as two-time defending champions, B’ville players and coaches plunged into off-season work, from weight-training to film study. They even took extra time after the Auburn scrimmage to work on formations.
All that is needed, for the Bees head right back onto the big stage Friday night when it opens its season at CBA, the team it has beaten in each of the last two sectional finals. They’ve also engaged in a pair of memorable regular-season encounters, too, in 2009 and 2010.
Some teams might be apprehensive to have so big of a game at the start, but Sanfilippo prefers to see the benefits.
“It may be a great thing,” he said. “You’ll know right away about everything. And we’re ready for it.”