Baldwinsville Even to high school sports programs defined by their consistency, both in their approach to the game and in their leadership, change is inevitable.
Baldwinsville, for so long an epitome of tough, hard-nosed football with an emphasis on a powerful ground game, is adapting its approach in order to remain near the top of the Section III Class AA ranks.
All through the off-season since the Bees dropped last November's sectional final to CBA, the usual amount of work in the weight room has taken place, but something else has happened, too.
According to B'ville head coach Carl Sanfilippo, a lot of attention has been devoted to the passing game - establishing it on the offensive end, and then stopping it on the defensive end.
"We have to be able to throw the ball to keep eight (defenders) out of the box," said Sanfilippo. "And we've been spending a lot of time on it."
That's not the only change taking place. For the first time since 2009, the Bees won't have Tyler Rouse in the backfield, putting up record numbers. Rouse is now at Boston College, one of the few top-level college programs to recruit him despite his huge performances.
Also, long-time assistant coach Mark Bader has retired. To replace him, B'ville tapped Bill Spicer, who played for the Bees in the 1980s, and then went on to coach the Mike Hart-led Onondaga Tigers to three consecutive state championships from 2001 to '03.
Spicer's duties include coaching the running backs and linebackers - and yes, the Bees' famous ground game should remain a focal point. The only difference is that many runners, and not one big star, will share the carries, and production.
As a junior in 2012, Ricky Sparks gave Rouse a breather and picked up more than 800 yards. Now as a senior, Sparks leads a three-pronged tailback group that also includes senior Brian Mahar and junior Cameron Skipworth. There's also a trio of fullbacks on hand, with returnee Cole Burchill joined by Tariq Lejia and Caleb Carter.