Manlius A combination of necessity and performance sent the Baldwinsville football team into a place few of its long-time followers could recall seeing during Friday night’s exciting Class AA-2 division opener at Fayetteville-Manlius.
Gone were the pound-it-out, eat-up-the-clock, dominate-the-line-of scrimmage aspects of the Bees’ familiar ground attack. Instead, quarterback Gage Blasi was rolling out, throwing it short and long, and finding success for the most part.
This total personality change nearly worked, too, but the Hornets, who lost a 38-36 thriller to B’ville last fall in the Section III Class AA semifinals, got a bit of payback, answering every Bees charge and prevailing by a 49-37 margin.
Blasi attempted 24 passes, completing 15 of them for 355 yards, which made up for the Hornets holding star tailback Ricky Sparks to just 51 yards on 18 carries. Yet still it wasn’t enough.
It was F-M who entered the game with the no. 12 state Class AA ranking and an attack that, under first-year head coach Damien Rhodes, had scored 98 points in its first two games.
And it took just 14 seconds for the Hornets to add to that total. Taking the opening kickoff at his own 10-yard line near the sideline, Luke Krizman, who missed that playoff game a year ago due to a broken collarbone, sped up the field, picked up a wall of blockers and went all the way for a 90-yard touchdown.
From there, F-M never trailed, but B’ville didn’t go away, either. This pattern started to unfold after the Hornets seized a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter. Blasi's pair of long passes to tight end Mike Yorkey set up his own one-yard scoring run, and the chase was on.
Twice in the first half, the Hornets stretched out its lead to double digits as Jake Wittig found Jack Wilson on scoring passes of five and 30 yards. Both times, the Bees rode Blasi's right arm down the field to scoring drives capped by short TD runs of six yards by Sparks and three yards by Blasi.