C-NS dominates West Genesee to earn Class AA sectional football repeat  
11/5/2018 5:52 AM

Once again, the Cicero-North Syracuse football team left no doubt as to the top team in area Class AA football.  The Northstars dominated West Genesee on both sides of the ball Saturday for a 40-0 victory and their second straight Class AA sectional championship.  C-NS, now 10-0, advances to next Saturday's (6 p.m.) state quarterfinal playoff game against the Section IV champion Elmira. It will be a home game for the Northstars at C-NS' Bragman Stadium.  A win in that game would put C-NS into a state semifinal Nov. 17 at Union-Endicott High School, against either Section V champion Aquinas or Section VI winner Lancaster, the team that knocked the Northstars out in last year's semis.  The victory was similar to last year's 56-21 demolition of Baldwinsville, although the score wasn't quite as high. In typical fashion, C-NS controlled the flow of the game, constantly harassed Wildcats quarterback Tyler Cook on defense and broke the game open with big plays.  C-NS scored four of its TDs on plays of over 40 yards — a 44-yard pass from Conner Hayes to Shy'rel Broadwater, a 77-yard run by Jeremiah Willis, a 43-yard scamper by Jai'quawn McGriff and a 44-yard ramble by Da-Ron Brown. "That's just our game plan, to get the ball into our athletes' hands and let them make plays," senior quarterback Conner Hayes said.  It's the second consecutive 10-0 run through the section for the Northstars, who are now 30-2 over the past three seasons and have become the area's dominant big-school program.  "Just athletes all over the field," Hayes said when asked how why the team is so dangerous. "Offense, defense, special teams. Even our offensive line. They never get interviewed or anything, but our offensive line this year is just ridiculous. They open holes for us. They give us a shot. That's what we tell them. Just make a hole, a little hole."  The Northstars actually got off to a rather slow start, for them, as Hayes was intercepted on the team's first possession by the Wildcats' Christian Rossi.   With the ball at the C-NS 30-yard line, it would have been the perfect time to grab an early lead, but the defense gave up all of three yards and Cook's incomplete pass on fourth down allowed the Northstars to escape.  The only other time in the game the Wildcats would get deeper into C-NS territory was just before the half, when West Genesee made it to the 23-yard line. But Riley Small's 40-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the second quarter came up short.  "Cold-blooded," said linebacker Josh Lawrence when asked about the C-NS defense. "We just come out and try to kick butt against every team we play. Our goal is always to shut them out."  In one second-quarter sequence, Lawrence make consecutive sacks on West Genesee quarterback Cook, pushing the Wildcats from first-and-10 on their 35-yard line to third-and-38 from their 7.  "Our defense has been so on — they've been playing so well lately," C-NS coach Dave Kline said. "Teams score late in games on us. Our defense has been good all year long."  Meanwhile, Broadwater caught his long TD pass to put the Northstars on the board, then Hayes hit Nate Geloff with a 10-yard pass to make it 13-0, and Willis showed off his all-state track speed late in the half when he took a handoff from Hayes, turned the corner and out-ran the West Genesee defense for a 20-0 C-NS halftime lead.  "We always look for big plays," Willis said. "If a big play comes, you've got to capitalize on it. If it doesn't come, next play."Willis said the C-NS offense feeds off of the energy from one another, and the crowd.   "I feed off of the crowd's energy. I feed off of my team's energy," he said. "When the crowd is loud, there's no cap to our energy."  In the second half, McGriff scored on a one-play drive from the West Genesee 43, after the Wildcats failed on a fourth-down run.  The Northstars scored again on a seven-play, 76-yard drive highlighted by long runs from McGriff and Willis.  Early in the fourth quarter, C-NS brought in sophomore Brown, a 5-foot-11, 230 pound wrecking ball — and he promptly ran for a 44-yard TD for the final points.  Hayes said there was no "been-there, done-that" feeling after the second straight championship.   "I can't really describe it. We worked so hard in the offseason, and the whole community supports us. You'd think doing it again, it might feel the same, but it really doesn't. It feels better every time," he said.  Asked to reflect on the four years that saw the Northstars program blossom, Hayes said it was just a combination of good athletes and a top coaching staff.  "I definitely knew we had lots of talent in the program," he said. "And Coach Kline and his staff have done it before. They did it at Henninger. I definitely had the belief that something special could happen at C-NS."


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