F-M among top AA football contenders; CBA aims for return to glory

first_imgF-M went 6-3 a season ago and reached the sectional semifinals before eventual champion Cicero-North Syracuse stomped them 46-7.  Meanwhile, CBA, with a young roster, went 1-7, facing trials on and off the field.As always at F-M, the energy level is high, and with a combination of a solid returning cast and some intriguing newcomers, the Hornets have a reason to think beyond just contending for a league or sectional title.“We’re always in the fight,” said head coach Paul Muench. “But we’ve got to make some better moves at the end of the year to take it to the next level.” Zak Conley takes over at quarterback for the Hornets. Already a standout defensive end, Conley will go both ways, with his throwing and running ability augmented by having a capable backup in Alex Dauksza.F-M isn’t worried about its skill players since it returns three running backs – Ethan Page, Evan Welling and Jack Nucerino – that made big contributions in 2018 when other backs got injured.Jordan Leuze also returns as the Hornets’ top receiver, helped by Mike Mason, Andrew Koester and sophomore Gordie Means. Also, both goalies on F-M’s lacrosse team – Ben Hammond and Jack VanValkenburgh – have taken up football and could catch passes, too.And the Hornets should have a terrific front line, often running behind left tackle Charlie Gadsden and left guard Caleb Pulver. Dan Sokolovic could line up at right tackle or guard, flanked by center Jake Fiorito and Matt McDonald.Will Duncanson, a key member of F-M’s unlikely sectional Class AA championship baseball team last spring, will help anchor the defense at outside linebacker, saying he knows the key to his team’s success.“If you do everything you can and work (hard), you can beat anybody,” said Duncanson.Sawyer Dereszynski is given the extremely tough task of trying to replace Tim Shaw at middle linebacker, flanked by Nucerino and sophomore Jake Poruczek.Hammond joins Conley, Means, Pulver and Jake Dobricki on the defensive line, while Leuze is a top returning cornerback, aided by a rotation that includes VanValkenburgh, Mason and Will Richardson. Welling and Nate Macrae are the starting safeties.Not far away, at CBA, the sting of 2018, and all that took place, has fueled every returning player in purple and gold.“They understand what needs to get done and are focused on it,” said head coach Casey Brown.Thus, veteran players can run warm-up drills and exercises before the coaches even take the field, veterans and newcomers alike focused on bringing the Brothers back to prominence.Much will be put on quarterback Travis Ward. The 6-foot-3 junior had a busy summer, said Brown, whether it was in the weight room or in summer camps as far away as Arizona, all of it focused on mastering the Brothers’ multifaceted offense.While throwing to the likes of Jack Szatkowski, Cam Harris and Aries Davis El, Ward can have a fair amount of confidence in his ground game since Jason Boule, Cade Bacon and highly-touted sophomore Jamar Ballard could all start in the backfield.Yet the big question for the Brothers is who will start up front. Other that Will Laun at center, nearly every other starting spot is up for grabs, and their development might hold the key to CBA’s entire season.There’s less questions on the defensive side, with Harris and Ashton Dean set to cause havoc at defensive end while Boule, Ballard and Szatkowski lead the way at linebacker. Davis El has an offer from Brigham Young University and leads a talented CBA secondary where Bacon lines up at safety.So much will be told before F-M and CBA meet up. The Hornets get fellow AA contender Liverpool in the Kickoff Classic Friday night as, at Alibrandi Stadium, the Brothers challenge a C-NS side that lost many top players from its 2017-18 championship run.Brown is optimistic that the Brothers can reclaim the winning form to which so many have grown accustomed. “We have to be smart with what we have,” he said. “But (the  players’) level of focus and enthusiasm is contagious, and there’s a purpose and drive.”Muench said F-M’s chance at ending an 18-year sectional title drought hinges on trusting his players to utilize their unique talents in pressure situations.“Instead of running a system, the key is to play to those strengths and be creative,” he said.Share this:FacebookTwitterLinkedInRedditComment on this Story On the night of Sept. 13, football teams from Fayetteville-Manlius and Christian Brothers Academy meet up on the Hornets’ home turf, renewing their infrequent, yet intense, rivalry.By the time the Hornets and Brothers are done with their gridiron clash, both will have a good idea of the things required of them to achieve their respective ambitions.They arrive in 2019 from different viewpoints, though.center_img Tags: CBAF-Mfootballlast_img

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