Baldwinsville 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.