SYRACUSE – Everyone on the Cicero-North Syracuse and Christian Brothers Academy football teams knew quite early this season that it would all lead to Sunday night’s Section III Class AA championship game at the JMA Wireless Dome.
Yet when it finally happened, the Northstars, undone by unexpected absences and a high-quality opponent, saw its five-year reign as sectional champions end in a 34-7 loss to the Brothers.
The entire scope of the game changed when word broke 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, later saying that the decision of the suspension was a contributing factor, announced to his team Friday that he was stepping down. Thus, it was Northstars assistant coaches who were handling all the play-calling and decision-making.
All this meant that C-NS entered with 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.
Even if Razmovski was there, the task was daunting enough. C-NS had lost 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.
When C-NS ran onto the Dome turf before the game, Nate Williams led them, holding Razmovski’s no. 10 jersey, a clear sign they were playing for their absent quarterback.
Charged up, 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 plenty of its own mistakes, large (turnovers) and small (penalties), plus a strong and consistent CBA defense.
Isaiah Coleman’s 20-yard TD run with 2:35 left sealed an outcome that was settled much earlier. For the first time since 2016, a C-NS season would not conclude with a sectional banner.