Just a month remains before the area’s quintet of high school football teams hit the field for practice and, soon after that, the start of the 2014 season.
They will do so with plenty of changes on the horizon – some of them small, others large.
Defending the Section III Class AA title, Christian Brothers Academy will go into this season without many of the stars that brought them to that point, including J.R. Zazzara (now at the University at Buffalo) and Deshawn Salter, who is going to Yale University.
But the Brothers will open its season back in the Carrier Dome against the team it beat on that same turf in a bruising 2013 sectional final, facing Henninger Sept. 5 as part of the Kickoff Classic.
The changes in the Class AA-1 division mean that CBA will still face West Genesee, Central Square and Corcoran, but now pick up three new league foes in Nottingham (moved back up from Class A), Liverpool and Rome Free Academy.
Fayetteville-Manlius, entering its second season under head coach Damien Rhodes, is looking to improve upon last year’s campaign, when it went undefeated through the regular season, only to fall to Henninger in the sectional semifinals.
With senior quarterback Jake Wittig at the helm, the Hornets also saw changes in its Class AA-2 division. Henninger joins them, as does another team moved up from the Class A ranks, Fowler, while Cicero-North Syracuse also moves from AA-1. Baldwinsville, Auburn and Utica Proctor remain.
Like CBA, F-M also opens in the Kickoff Classic at the Dome, taking on C-NS Sept. 6 at 8 p.m. The rematch with Henninger is at home (where new bleachers will be in place) on Sept. 19, with the trip to Baldwinsville Sept. 26 broadcast on Time Warner Cable Sports.
In Class A, Jamesville-DeWitt and East Syracuse-Minoa both saw their dreams of a sectional championship end in 2013 in the sectional semifinals – the Spartans dropping a thriller to Carthage, the Red Rams falling to Indian River.