Nov 11, 2012 Kris Russell Uncategorized
Every Section III football team in 2012 finds its season over – except for Christian Brothers Academy, who now sits two victories away from a second state championship to go with the one it claimed in 2004.
The Brothers parlayed a near flawless first half into a convincing 31-7 win over Section IV champion Binghamton on Saturday in the Class AA regional final at East Syracuse-Minoa.
This win propelled CBA into the state semifinals, where it will face defending champion Orchard Park (Section VI) next Saturday at 6 p.m. at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester. The Quakers beat Rochester Aquinas 14-7 in the West Regional final.
The unbeaten Brothers (11-0) scored all their points against Binghamton in the opening 24 minutes. They were unstoppable on the ground, through the air, and unmoved on defense.
“We played a great first half,” CBA quarterback J.R. Zazzara said. “Great blocking up front led to me having time to make some decent passes. The receivers made me look great and I owe it all to them.”
“We were focused (and) we were making plays,” CBA coach Joe Casamento said. “We practiced hard all week. I thought we did a good job of executing our game plan.”
Zazzara threw for 151 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. One was a 35-yarder to Andre Dowdell. The other covered 29 yards, and it ended up in the hands of Cody Radziewicz after a leaping grab.
Much of the Brothers’ dynamic ground game came from talented running back Deshawn Salter. The senior, who missed the sectional final against Baldwinsville a week earlier, recovered from mononucleosis in time to run for 84 first-half yards and two touchdowns of six and 15 yards.
As good as CBA was on offense, they were just as impressive defensively. The Brothers allowed Binghamton to cross midfield just twice in that opening half. The unit’s leader, linebacker Joey Pascarella, credited his squad’s reserves for preparing them to play the Patriots.
“We do a lot of film work during the week and our scout team did wonderful,” Pascarella said. They showed us every single play (Binghamton) was going to do, and we really did shut them down.”
Predictably, the Brothers second-half performance wasn’t as good. And that had both Casamento and Zazzara sounding alarm bells.
“When we got up 31-0 and went in (to the locker room) I felt us relax,” Casamento said. “My kinds were content to win tonight instead of being as good as they can be so that’s a little disappointing. But that’s about the only disappointment.”
“We can’t be just a first-half team,” Zazzara said. “We need a great first half and a great second half to beat some of these teams we’re going to be playing later in the states. That’s what’s being a good football team is all about.”
Overall, Zazzara completed 10-of-20 passes for 212 yards. He also rushed for 55 yards. Salter finished with 95 yards and spent much of the second half icing his ankle. He limped noticeably through the post-game handshake line.
Casemento gave Salter’s backup, Johnathan Stackhouse, seven second half carries in what might be preparation for action against Orchard Park.
“Stackhouse is a good back (but) Deshawn’s just a great back,” Casemento said. “If (Salter) isn’t ready Stack will be and we’ll go play. That’s football.”
Of the five Section III champions that went into the regional weekend, only CBA made it out. Sandy Creek (to Tioga), Nottingham (to Union-Endicott), Cazenovia (to Maine-Endwell) and Skaneateles (to Chenango Forks) all got beat.