Liverpool To be sure, the Christian Brothers Academy football team has figured out the part about reaching the Section III Class AA championship game. Now, it's just a matter of closing the deal.
The Brothers improved to 9-0 and earned a return trip to the Carrier Dome by smashing West Genesee 35-13 in Friday night's AA semifinal at Liverpool High School Stadium.
It nearly echoed the 35-20 decision CBA earned over the Wildcats back on Sept. 20 and, at the same time, offered a bit of atonement for the 57-35 loss to WG in the sectional finals a year ago.
So now the Brothers play in its fourth straight sectional final, going up against Baldwinsville next Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Dome. The Bees held off Fayetteville-Manlius 38-36 in the other semifinal.
What made the night more special for long-time Brothers fans was seeing a return of CBA's vaunted passing attack, which coincided with the return to good health of quarterback J.R. Zazzara.
In mid-season, Zazzara went out with mononucleosis. Though he returned a couple of weeks ago, head coach Joe Casamento said that Zazzara needed more time to regain the rhythm he had running the offense and finding his receivers.
Against West Genesee, a team geared up to try and contain CBA's star sophomore tailback, Deshawn Salter, Zazzara thrived once more. Though he completed just seven passes, they went for 167 yards, an average of more than 23 yards per completion, and three went for touchdowns.
"We think we're a passing team, but (so far this season) we didn't have to do it," said Casamento. "We knew we could throw against West Genesee, and J.R. was itching to do so."
Late in the first quarter, after Salter's 65-yard touchdown run got called back due to an inadvertent whistle, Zazzara drove his team down to the Wildcats' 25, from where he found a wide-open Andre Dowdell in single coverage for a TD that, this time, counted and put CBA ahead to stay.