SYRACUSE – In different circumstances, the Christian Brothers Academy football team putting an emphatic stop to Cicero-North Syracuse’s long reign as Section III Class AA champions would be considered a milestone.
But no one who played, or watched, Sunday night’s 34-7 victory by the Brothers over the Northstars at the JMA Wireless Dome could separate the game from the chain of events that unfolded in the days and hours beforehand.
Word got out Saturday night that the Northstars’ senior quarterback, Jaxon Razmovski, was suspended and would miss the game based on an incident that took place a couple of days earlier.
Razmovski’s family declined to appeal the immediate decision but did mention a possible civil action against the North Syracuse School District as gametime neared.
As if this wasn’t enough, Northstars head coach Dave Kline, perhaps reacting to the suspension, announced to his team that he stepped down, so it was Northstars assistant coaches, led by Bob Campese, who handled the play-calling and decision-making.
Put it all together ,and C-NS had far more of a handicap than CBA did in 2022, when injured quarterback Jordan Rae (who had led the Brothers to the 2021 state Class A championship) could only watch his side lose to the Northstars.
Of course, CBA was confident no matter who was on the other side. It beat C-NS 34-18 when these two had played a month earlier at Bragman Stadium largely due to a tremendous two-way performance from Jamier Handford, who ran for 206 yards, recorded an interception and forced a fumble that led to a touchdown.
Not surprisingly, C-NS had lots of emotion running onto the Dome turf before the game as Nate Williams led them, holding Razmovski’s no. 10 jersey, a clear sign they were playing for their absent quarterback.
And the Northstars got off to an ideal start, stopping CBA on its first possession and then, from the Brothers’ 39, grabbing the lead when Anthony Johnson, taking his first snap after Marcus Reed started under center, threw deep and found Davine Bennett in single coverage for the TD.
From there, though, emotion gave way to all-around excellence from the Brothers.
Quentin Lewis returned the ensuing kickoff 65 yards. Three plays later, a Porter Matt sideline pass found Damien Williams, who broke two tackles and dashed 26 yards for the tying score.
And the Brothers led for good before the first quarter was done, turning a short field into seven points when Matt’s 22-yard pass to Syair Torrence set up Handford scoring from seven yards out.
On consecutive possessions, Reed fumbled, giving CBA a chance to seize control. Twice, it got inside the C-NS 20, only to get stopped once on fourth down and settle for a 20-yard Everett Gilchrist field goal on the other attempt.
But with 1:21 left in the half, another short Brothers drive led to another TD from Handford, this one from 17 yards out, and CBA went to the break comfortably in front 24-7.
A third C-NS turnover came when Zion Green made a diving interception at midfield, ultimately setting up a second Gilchrist field goal from 21 yards out, which were the only points of the third quarter.
Even with the stops that the Northstars were able to make, along with a Johnson interception, it never got close to the end zone again, stymied by a strong and consistent CBA defense that not only forced those key turnovers, but also constantly prevented big plays with its speed and aggression.
Isaiah Coleman’s 20-yard TD run with 2:35 left sealed the outcome, and the Brothers would now turn its aim to trying to add a third state championship to the two it earned in 2004 and 2021.
On Saturday night at Vestal High School near Binghamton, CBA will face Section IV’s Elmira in the Class AA regional final. The winner gets to face Buffalo Bennett or Rochester McQuaid in the Nov. 25 state semifinal at Bragman Stadium.