Cicero-North Syracuse opens high school football season with solid win over Fairport
9/1/2017 10:16 AM

No one associated with the Cicero-North Syracuse football team had any concern about the Northstars’ ability to put points on the board when it took on Fairport in Thursday night’s Kickoff Classic at the Carrier Dome.  And when the defense finally got around to preventing the Red Raiders from doing the same, C-NS was well on its way to a 42-14 victory that it hopes is the harbinger to a championship season that climaxes on this same Dome turf in November.  The Northstars actually trailed twice in this game, but a pair of third-quarter Faiport turnovers gave C-NS a cushion as senior tailback Erik Pride would notch four touchdowns on the same field where he emerged as a star against Henninger in this same event exactly one year ago.  Pride said his own success was the byproduct of all of the hard work done by him and his teammates and he gave full credit to the front line of Lorenzo Thompson, Reis Spicer, Adam Mosher, Brady Mills and John Catania for clearing the way.  It took less than two minutes for C-NS to get on the board. Jeremiah Willis returned the opening kickoff 36 yards to midfield and, four plays later, Conner Hayes found a wide-open Tyler Days in the end zone from 25 yards out.  Fairport countered with a power running attack that ate up most of the first quarter with a pair of drives into Northstars territory.  Having set up its ground game, the Red Raiders then changed up – and quarterback Mike Pellittiere threw 33 yards to Mike Sabatine in the last minute of the period to set up Pellittiere’s own two-yard touchdown sneak and a go-ahead extra point.  Trailing 7-6 as the second quarter started, C-NS opted to spread the ball around. Willis, Nate Geloff and Lukas Merluzzi all made key gains on an 80-yard march that Pride finished off with a 20-yard scoring dash up the middle.  Again Fairport answered it, mixing up passes and runs on a 61-yard march that Dante Coccia capped with an eight-yard scoring run. That Northstars deficit didn’t last, either, as it went 74 yards to its third TD of the half scored by Pride from two yards out, followed by a Hayes two-point run on a bootleg.  Yet despite a 20-14 halftime lead, C-NS had to feel concern about how the Red Raiders were moving against its defense, and knew it had to create some containment if it wanted to take full control.  “They (Fairport) came right at us,” said C-NS head coach Dave Kline. “We just had to wake up a bit, and the kids responded pretty well.”  In fact, just one play at the start of the third quarter brought that relief. Changing up its first-half strategy, Pellittiere tried to throw deep, but Geloff intercepted it at the Northstars’ 36 and returned it 30 yards into Red Raiders territory. Three plays later, Pride dashed 26 yards for the TD, and his two-point run suddenly gave C-NS a 28-14 cushion.  Things got better when Fairport turned it over again on a fumble near midfield on its next possession. Pride turned that into a 36-yard scoring run.  Energized by forcing those turnovers, the Northstars stopped Fairport twice inside its own 15-yard line in the game’s latter stages, and Willis offered an entertaining exclamation point when, with 2:22 left, he ran up the left sideline, cut back up the middle and finished off a 79-yard TD sprint.  That gave Willis 106 rushing yards on the day, just behind Pride’s total of 126 yards on 13 carries. Hayes completed eight of nine passes in the first half and, overall, was 11-for-16 for 123 yards through the air.  “We’ve got a lot of guys who can make plays,” said Kline.  C-NS returns to Bragman Stadium next Friday to face Horseheads in its home opener. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.


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