SYRACUSE Baldwinsville’s football team sought the same happy ending in the Carrier Dome that it got when it beat Christian Brothers Academy in the 2009 and 2010 Section III Class AA championship games.
But the Brothers, who had lost three consecutive sectional finals overall, would not get beat this time, emerging from a classic second-half struggle to fight past the Bees 35-24 in Saturday’s title game.
Most of the pre-game focus was on the match-up between B'ville's superstar running back, Tyler Rouse, and CBA's fast, hard-hitting defense, which had shut down so many opposing offenses throughout a 9-0 run to the no. 3 spot in the state Class AA rankings.
But it was the absence of the other star running back that became a bigger story. Just one day before the final, CBA sophomore Deshawn Salter, who gained 1,255 yards and scored 17 touchdowns this season, averaging better than 11 yards per carry, fell ill with mononucleosis, sidelining him for the title game.
B’ville sensed an opportunity with Salter’s absence, but his replacement, Jonathan Stackhouse, would distinguish himself by game's end, and CBA’s potent attack would still do plenty of damage.
Following a scoreless opening period, back-to-back plays early in the second quarter put the Bees behind.
B’ville’s first sustained drive reached CBA's 25-yard line, but on fourth-and-one, instead of running Rouse again, B'ville tried a play-action pass. Josh Demoski got sacked, fumbled, and Keegan O'Hern returned it to the Bees' 47.
On the very next play, CBA quarterback J.R. Zazzara (who has come back from his own mono bout to start again) kept it on an option fake, cut back up the middle and went all the way to the end zone, a 53-yard run giving the Brothers a 7-0 lead.
Other than that, though, the Bees' defense held up well in the early going, and Brent Grippe's 20-yard sack midway through the period pinned CBA deep in its own end, leading to a short punt and another B'ville scoring opportunity.