Oct 19, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
A full regular season has passed, and neither the Fayetteville-Manlius nor Christian Brothers Academy football teams have lost yet.
As a result, the Hornets and Brothers enter the Section III Class AA playoffs as the top seeds, knowing two wins separate them from a potentially epic clash in the Carrier Dome on Nov. 10.
From the most technical of standpoints, F-M had nothing at stake in Friday night’s game against Auburn, since its play in the first six weeks had assured a Class AA-2 division crown and a top Section III playoff seed.
But the state no. 9-ranked Hornets badly wanted an unbeaten regular season, and instead of getting discouraged when it trailed the Maroons, three different times, it rallied on each occasion, and got the conversions it needed to prevail by a score of 35-34.
Auburn, like F-M, was locked into its playoff seed, the Maroons guaranteed fourth place in AA-1 and heading toward next Friday’s first-round game at CBA.
Yet the Maroons did not act content, nor was it overwhelmed by the challenge of F-M. Instead, it jumped out to a 14-0 lead before the Hornets could settle down. Trevor Ash put Auburn in front with an 11-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and Julius Mizro broke loose with a 49-yard scoring run minutes later.
Then F-M put together its first comeback. A long pass from Jake Wittig to Jack Wilson set up Josh Pulver’s two-yard scoring run, and before the first quarter was done, Pulver found the end zone again on a 38-yard dash, tying it 14-14.
When Wittig found Luke Krizman deep for a 65-yard TD pass with 7:15 left in the first half, the Hornets seized a 21-14 lead, but now it was Auburn who would fight back.
Driving right down the field, the Maroons pulled even, 21-21, with Justin Valentino’s 17-yard TD pass to Jack Burgmaster, and just before the half Valentino hit Trevor Ash on a 20-yard scoring pass.
Staring at a 28-21 halftime deficit, F-M, as it has done so many other times this season, made adjustments on a defensive side missing two top linebackers (Zaire Ashley and Chris Bortel), proceeding to blank Auburn in the third quarter.
That gave ample time for the Hornets to tie it a third time, 28-28, with Pulver notching his third TD on an 11-yard run, part of a night where he would gain 191 yards on the ground, needing to have more responsibility since Ashley and Bortel usually share those ground duties.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Maroons moved back in front, 34-28, when Mizro again found a seam at midfield and took off 49 yards to the end zone. However, Dan Netti, who had made all four of his previous extra-point attempts, missed his fifth try.
That proved decisive, for with 5:30 to play, Wittig connected with Krizman a second time for a touchdown pass of 22 yards, and then the junior quarterback got his fifth PAT of the night – the winning point, as it turned out.
The Hornets made one more defensive stop, and it could relax again and start preparing for one more home game next weekend in the AA playoffs.
CBA, off its closest call of the season (a 33-20 win over Henninger on Oct. 12 at Sunnycrest Field), had a short week to prepare for last Thursday’s regular-season finale against Corcoran.
That hardly mattered, though, as the state AA no. 2-ranked Brothers blanked the Cougars 40-0 at Alibrandi Stadium, settling matters early by racing out to a 34-0 halftime lead.
J.R. Zazzara got CBA started with a 27-yard scoring run in the first quarter, and also found the end zone on a 21-yard dash late in the period. In between, Zazzara threw for a TD, 19 yards to Johnathan Stackhouse.
Then it was Deshawn Salter’s turn to shine, as he took over in the game’s middle stages. Thanks to TD runs of two and 19 yards, CBA stretched that margin to 34-0, and he proceeded to return the second-half kickoff 88 yards for six more points.
Like so many other times this fall, CBA’s starters rested for large portions of the second half to make sure they were healthy for the post-season drama ahead.
In next Friday’s opening round, CBA would indeed face Auburn, while F-M took on Central Square, who started 0-5 before late-season wins over Utica Proctor and Cicero-North Syracuse got them into the playoffs.
The other first-round games pit Liverpool against West Genesee on Friday at LHS Stadium, and Henninger against Baldwinsville on Saturday afternoon at Sunnycrest Field.