Baldwinsville quarterback Gage Blasi (12) sets off on an option play, flanked by fullback Caleb Carter (33) and lineman Jakeith Jackson (74), in Friday nght's game against Cicero-North Syracuse. Blasi and the Bees would go on to beat the Northstars 34-27.
Baldwinsville 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.