By its own efforts - and through events elsewhere - the Baldwinsville football team suddenly finds itself holding the controls over the Class AA-1 division regular-season championship race.
To do its part, the Bees had to go to Rome Free Academy Friday night and, riding the legs of running backs Tyler Rouse and Ricky Sparks, put together a 59-28 victory over the Black Knights.
That win, combined with Liverpool's 28-14 victory at Fayetteville-Manlius and Utica Proctor topping Auburn 39-20, means that the Warriors and Raiders share first place in AA-2, and B'ville still has to face them - Liverpool on Oct. 2, Proctor on Oct. 9.
In short, the night could not have gone better, starting with another giant effort from Rouse, who piled up 366 yards on 26 carries and scored five touchdowns. And he did it all despite missing parts of the second and third quarter, forced to go to the hospital to get stitches on a bloody lip.
Of course, Rouse could afford to miss some game time because B'ville took a 35-6 lead to the second half against an RFA side long removed from its glory days and still winless in 2012.
Helped by his imposing offensive line that overwhelmed the Black Knights at the line of scrimmage, Rouse scored on runs of 59, five and 7 yards to send B'ville to a 21-0 edge early in the second quarter.
Then Ricky Sparks took over in the backfield. The quick, elusive junior capped off two more Bees scoring drives with scoring runs of 29 and three yards to make it 35-0. Dean Tortelotte made all five of his extra-point attempts in the first half.
By the time Rouse was back at RFA Stadium during the third period, Sparks had struck again, scoring from 46 yards out, the longest TD of his varsity career.
Getting the ball back at mid-field later in the quarter, B'ville once again had Rouse's services, and the senior struck for a 49-yard TD run to insure Bees fans that he was just fine. He tacked on a 50-yard scoring sprint in the fourth quarter after Tortellote, who went eight-for-eight overall on PAT's, booted a 31-yard field goal.
B'ville, before it can have the showdowns with Liverpool and Proctor, first must handle Auburn, who takes a 2-2 record into Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium for next Friday night's Homecoming game, which kicks off at 6:30.