Baldwinsville Leaning against a wall in the Baldwinsville locker room on Friday night, Tyler Rouse examined his arms.
A bright red gash gleamed on the outside of the senior running back’s left forearm. One half inch wide by two inches long, it crept out just passed the rolled-up sleeves of his white Nike shirt.
His eyes followed the smaller bruises and lacerations that ran from his elbows down to his wrists. And at his fists — fingers swollen up the size of hot dogs — he tried to clench them, his cold muscles slowly obliging.
Rouse then withdrew his attention from the carnage he took in that night’s game against Utica-Proctor, and looked up as a wide smile stretched slowly across his face.
“What would be the game without it?” Rouse said of the wounds. “We knew we had to punch them in the mouth on a cold night like this, smash-mouth football, B’Ville-type football. That’s what we had to come out and do and that’s what we did.”
Rouse pounded away at the Raiders defense to the tune of 39 carries, 270 yards and five touchdowns as the Bees defeated Proctor 40-32 at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium, clinching a share of the Class AA-1 regular-season title with Liverpool and Fayetteville-Manlius, all of them finishing with 4-1 league marks.
But B’Ville wins the tie-breaker based on point differential. Thus, it gets the No. 1 seed in the Section III Class AA playoffs and home-field advantage for a first-round match-up with Central Square. The winner of that game will face F-M or Henninger in the semifinals.
Carrying his usual workload, Rouse ran through and around a Proctor defense which regularly crammed nine players into the box, advancing his season totals to 2,227 yards and 33 touchdowns — far and away the best back, statistically, in Central New York.