Oct 14, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Even when hampered with problems on and off the field, the Liverpool football team has put itself in a strong position to return to the Section III Class AA playoffs.
What’s more, the Warriors now own neighborhood bragging rights over its biggest rival, Cicero-North Syracuse, thanks to last Friday’s 30-7 victory over the Northstars at Bragman Stadium.
Needing a win this game to remain in control of its post-season fate, Liverpool achieved that goal while, at the same time, putting CNS in a more vulnerable position. The Warriors also took possession of the “Star Wars” Cup in the second year it was handed out, after the Northstars prevailed a year ago.
The packed crowd at Bragman Stadium watched Liverpool (2-2 league, 3-3 overall) shut down CNS, as the Northstars got just 118 yards of total offense. The Warriors’ defense recorded seven sacks and one interception along the way.
Meanwhile, Liverpool junior tailback Greg Bell delivered a dominating performance. Bell set a new career mark with 219 yards on 29 carries, with 180 of those yards coming in the first half, plus four touchdowns.
“We know what are our team is capable of doing if we work hard, said Liverpool head coach Dave Mancuso. “Tonight we slowed things down (on defense) and got back to the fundamentals. We saw this evening that have the potential to be pretty good. We were fortunate that everything just clicked.”
Striking first, the Warriors got moving when senior quarterback Tyler Kamide threw a 47-yard pass to Jesse Gates, who made a leaping grab at the CNS 32. Three plays later, Bell dashed into the end zone with a 19-yard score. Though Jimmy Wright missed the extra point, Liverpool led 6-0.
On his next possession, Kamide made a rare mistake, an underthrown pass that Austin Hyde (who had two interceptions the week before against CBA) picked off and returned 42 yards deep into Liverpool territory.
Quarterback Ryan Lacey utilized an effective set of screen passes to move CNS to the goal line, and Quinton Mitchell scored on a one-yard run that put CNS ahead 7-6.
However, that lead evaporated quickly. Liverpool retaliated with a pair of scoring drives in the second quarter, most of it Bell running right through the Northstars’ defense. Combined, the drives consumed more than eight minutes of clock.
The first march went 82 yards, and Bell capped it off with a seven-yard TD run. Then, with 1:23 remaining in the half, Kamide connected with Bell on a screen pass that turned into a 25-yard touchdown play, making it 20-7.
In the second half, CNS had opportunities to score – but penalties, sacks, and turnovers led to empty possessions. Liverpool, meanwhile, kept running, as Bell added a fourth TD on a five-yard run and Wright connected on a 22-yard field goal.
This result leads to a fascinating pair of contests this weekend that will determine the post-season fates of both the Northstars and Warriors.
At 2-2 in league play, CNS has to visit Camillus to face defending state Class AA champion West Genesee Friday at 6 p.m. It’s the first meeting between the two since last year’s epochal sectional final, won by the Wildcats on Luke Cometti’s last-second field goal.
The Northstars have to win to clinch a playoff berth. If not, Liverpool will clinch a spot, and CNS could get knocked out if the Warriors beats Fayetteville-Manlius Saturday at Solvay’s Earl Hadley Stadium.
CNS must find a way to contain an explosive West Genesee offense that has put up 246 points in six games, an average of nearly 41 points per game. Liverpool knows that F-M, who once was 0-4, has turned its season around by stunning WG and ripping Utica Proctor, and will be playing with urgency. Only a win can put the Hornets in the playoffs. Should Liverpool prevail, the Warriors and Northstars will both make it.