Aug 28, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Not far down the road, the sports teams at Baker High School will have the all-weather Field Turf at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium, a big change that the Baldwinsville athletic program has wanted for decades.
Yet it’s doubtful that, whatever surface they play on, the football Bees will change that much. Why mess with something that, for the most part, has worked during head coach Carl Sanfilippo’s long and successful tenure?
Still, there’s a hunger for B’ville to get back to the top of the Section III Class AA football ranks.
After three straight sectional finals appearances and two sectional championships anchored by Tyler Rouse (now at Boston College), the 2013 Bees went “only” 5-3, losing in overtime to Henninger in the first round of the playoffs.
Motivated to win it all again, the Bees labored through a busy off-season, ranging from the usual high attendance in the weight room to a week-long camp in June at Utica College, meant to enhance team chemistry and build on all the other things that were done in the winter and spring.
As a result, said Sanfilippo, he learned that his players are willing to put in the hours to get better.
“I don’t’ know how good we’ll be, but we’ll work hard,” he said.
A new running back will take the primary role, with senior Cameron Skipworth picking up the 20 to 25 carries per game that Ricky Sparks had a season ago, lined up in front of Cole Burchill, another two-way standout, who is the starting fullback.
At 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, Skipworth has ample speed plenty of ability to miss tackles, but since he’s so important to the defensive secondary, the Bees want to make sure he doesn’t carry the ball all the time.
Thus, Central Square transfer Josh Smith, along with newcomers Sam Mahar and Ryan Ingerson (both up from the JV ranks), will get counted on to spell Skipworth, while Caleb Carter and Evan Stolicker helps out Burchill at fullback.
To succeed Gage Blasi at quarterback, the Bees are turning to senior Greg Jacquint, and while it remains a ground-based attack, the Bees have shown a tendency to throw more in recent years, so receivers like returning starter Sam Smith and David Gullen will be important, as will a tight end rotation that includes Calvin Tanguay, Jacob Greer and Sam Thurston.
The famed B’ville offensive line returns one starter, senior tackle Marcel Penfield. At 295 pounds, Penfield is by far the largest starter on a line that won’t possess the pure bulk across the board as in recent vintage.
Still, there’s solid talent, from 230-pound guards Dan Bridge and Mike Spicer to 210-pound tackle Sam Gosson and 205-pound center Ben Emmi. What it gives up in size, the Bees hope to make up with quickness off the snap and pound-for-pound strength.
Even though Sanfilippo has said his offense is ahead of where it was at this time in recent years, B’ville might still lean more on its defense, which improved throughout coordinator Bill Spicer’s first season at the helm.
Having Burchill, a three-year starter, anchor the linebacker corps helps, as does having Skipworth, back for a third season at free safety. During 2013, Burchill had 73 solo tackles and 91 tackles overall, while Skipworth had eight interceptions to lead Class AA, plus 44 tackles. Both were All-Central New York first-team selections.
Tanguay also returns as a starting linebacker, joined by Stolicker and newcomer Brandon Schmid, while INgerson, Jack Buis, Sam Smith, Josh Smith and Ryan Mahar are all part of a deep pool of defensive backs that could flourish with all the attention given to Skipworth.
Up front as part of the Bees’ 4-3 alignment, Penfield may see action at tackle, but a lot of the work will go to specialists Nate Slade and Ethan Plouffe, while Gosson and Mark Lanier start at end. Bill Spicer said the intention is to have two distinct lines and fresher bodies late in games.
If a game is on the line late, B’ville has quite a weapon in senior Tom Scarfino, another returning All-CNY selection who will handle both kicking and punting duties.
The biennial shuffling of Class AA division alignments had one big negative consequence for B’ville – namely, not playing neighbor and rival Liverpool (who moved from the Bees’ AA-2 division to AA-1) during the regular season, though the two teams did scrimmage on Saturday.
Instead, the Bees open with two home games against Auburn and West Genesee, and get four home games overall, with Fayetteville-Manlius visiting Sept. 26 and Cicero-North Syracuse arriving for the Oct. 17 regular-season finale, six days after a playoff rematch with Henninger at Sunnycrest Field.
For all the changes in football, B’ville, and Sanfilippo, continue to rely on time-honored methods in order to maintain a winning tradition.
“It’s all about team chemistry, everybody being on the same page,” said Sanfilippo. “The kids have to buy into the program and our philosophy, and then practice, be students of the game and be disciplined.”