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Bears close regular season, win big at Solvay

Chittenango misses out on playoff shot

— In a week full of high emotion for Chittenango High School’s athletic program, a proper theatrical ending would have included the football Bears winning at Solvay and, with help from elsewhere, making a return to the Section III Class B playoffs.

Doing its part, Chitteango rolled past Solvay 49-18 Friday night at Al Merola Field, but it needed Marcellus to lose to Phoenix in order to get into the post-season - and the Mustangs prevailed, 54-12, over the Firebirds, ending the Bears’ chances.

The entire Chittenango community was saddened last Monday when Frank DiChristina passed away at the age of 79. He worked at Chittenango for 41 years, serving a long tenure as athletic director and coaching baseball, football, wrestling and track.

Also, DiChristina served in executive capacities in Section III and the Tri-Valley League. The baseball field at Chittenango is named in DiChristina’s honor. Hundreds attended a memorial service for Dichristina Sunday at the High School gymnasium prior to his funeral Mass on Monday at St. Patrick’s Church.

Amid all this, the football Bears prepared for Solvay, and perhaps wanting to win one for the man everyone called “Coach Di”, Chittenango proceeded to dominate the Bearcats.

Cory Benn helped the Bears to a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter, scoring on a four-yard run and getting a second TD from 11 yards out before Matt Cretaro found Bill Strodel in the end zone for two points.

Josh Cretaro made it 21-0 with a three-yard scoring run, and after Solvay’s Frank Pucello returned a Bears fumble 27 yards for Solvay’s first points of the night, Connor Mills countered with a 54-yard TD run, and Chittenango took a 28-6 lead to the break.

After Benn recovered a Jeff Honsinger fumble and returned it deep into Solvay territory, Mills scored his second TD on a three-yard run. Matt Cretaro found Strodel for a 22-yard scoring pass early in the fourth quarter before Justin Gondeck scored on a three-yard run.

Chittenango tied Cortland for fourth place in Class B West with a 2-3 league mark (3-4 overall), but the Purple Tigers’ 20-16 win in their head-to-head meeting on Oct. 11 meant that the Bears would be on the post-season sidelines after getting to the sectional final each of the last two years, winning it all in 2011.

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