Sep 07, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Rare is the football game where both sides could feel reasonably pleased about the outcome, for someone has to win and lose, after all.
However, it’s fair to at least assume that Baldwinsville and Cicero-North Syracuse both left Friday night’s scintillating season opener at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium with good vibrations, even though it was the Bees that prevailed 34-27.
B’ville, of course, was pleased that it won, and also showcased a running attack that, anchored by tailback Ricky Sparks and quarterback Gage Blasi, hasn’t suffered too much despite the departure of the program’s all-time leading rusher, Tyler Rouse.
And though C-NS took the defeat, it proved, from start to finish, that the rebuilding job of first-year head coach Joe Sindoni is already providing results, as it pushed the powerful Bees all the way to the wire – something close to unimaginable when the Northstars were suffering through 1-7 campaigns each of the last two years.
What made the difference was that, after a wild 20-20 first half, B’ville dictated the tempo throughout the last two periods, using a pair of long scoring drives to wear C-NS’s defense down.
In the first of these marches, the Bees went 96 yards and consumed more than six minutes of clock in the third quarter. Except for an 11-yard pass to tight end Karl Smiley, Sparks and Blasi consumed those yards on the ground, and Sparks scored from 28 yards out to give B’ville a 27-20 lead.
Unfazed by this, and unmarked by Jordan Skipworth’s second interception late in the period deep in Bees territory, the Northstars fought back early in the fourth quarter with a long drive of its own, covering 88 yards in just under four minutes.
In his first varsity start, quarterback Owen Dziados showed calm and poise, finding a variety of receivers on this drive and escaping a sack with a brilliant 13-yard scramble that set up a six-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Evans with 7:01 left. The extra point tied it again, 27-27.
But working behind the offensive line of Jake Geer, Sam Gosson, Marcel Penfield, Jakeith Jackson and Karl Smiley, the Bees again methodically marched down the field as the regulation clock ticked down. Twice, Blasi kept the drive going with scrambles of 20 and 13 yards.
With 1:10 left, and having seen C-NS burn two time-outs to try and get the ball back, the Bees gave it again to Sparks on a toss, and the senior cut back up the middle and dashed to the end zone for the go-ahead TD, a 15-yard run that gave him a Rouse-like 301 yards on the night on 33 carries.
Though C-NS had one more possession, the Bees’ defense stopped them at midfield, Mike Yorkey sacking Dziados as time ran out.
All of this followed a fun, back-and-forth first half. Sparks, on the third play from scrimmage, ran 50 yards to set up Blasi’s one-yard TD sneak, only to see C-NS gradually improve its field position until a short drive early in the second quarter led to Dziados scoring from one yard out and tying it, 7-7.
Barely a minute later, B’ville went back in front 14-7 as Sparks, on an option pitch, tore 56 yards for his first TD of the season. Again, C-NS had a response, as a 40-yard pass from Dziados to Tyler Griffo set up a three-yard scoring strike to Jordan Schafer and a 14-14 tie.
Griffo wasn’t done, either, as he intercepted Blasi’s deep pass, which led to the Northstars taking a 20-14 lead when, on fourth down, Dziados faked a throw outside and threw over the middle to a wide-open Vinny Ianuzzo.
Now it was the Bees’ turn to rally, thanks to Sparks, who keyed a 71-yard march with runs of 29 and 12 yards to set up his own five-yard TD sprint with 2:03 left in the half.
A missed extra point kept it 20-20, where it would stay until the Bees, in the latter stages, got back to the grinding, pounding style that has won so much in the past – and did so again here.
C-NS moves on to face archrival Liverpool in the annual ‘Star Wars Cup’ game next Friday at Bragman Stadium, the Warriors coming off a season-opening 14-0 defeat to Henninger – who, as it turns out, will take on B’ville that same Friday at Sunnycrest Field.