With a potent offensive mix and shutout defense, Christian Brothers Academy not only ended its lengthy Section II playoff drought Friday night, but also made a statement.
The Brothers are back.
“We’re getting stronger and stronger from our Week 6 setback,” CBA coach Joe Burke said after a 40-0 Class AA quarterfinal triumph over Schenectady. “Our kids are
really starting to click.”
Teddy Cillis fired three touchdown passes, Cody Zappone scored three times and CBA forced four turnovers in its first postseason win since 2006, and its second straight impressive victory.
“CBA is a very good football team. They struck quick on us. They got momentum right away,” said Schenectady coach Jim Kramer. “We dug a hole and it was tough to get out. We tried.”
CBA scored touchdowns on its first three possessions, and on four of its initial five, in building a 27-0 halftime lead. CBA (7-1) also rolled to a 27-0 advantage last week when it clinched the Empire Division’s No. 2 playoff seed with a 33-7 win at Ballston Spa.
The Brothers suffered their only loss the week before, at Shenendehowa, 42-0.
“It started last week with our running game. We ran well against Ballston Spa,” said Zappone, who produced two of his three touchdowns Friday on the ground. “This week, we added a little more passing, and we put it all together.”
Cillis hit Zappone, Peter Luizzi and Pete Rustowicz with touchdown passes while gaining 217 yards through the air, Cameron Wynn rushed for a touchdown and 144 yards, and Zappone darted for 89 as CBA gained a semifinal date with Liberty Division champ Columbia (7-1) next Friday in East Greenbush.
CBA last enjoyed playoff success five years ago when it beat Guilderland, Ballston Spa and Colonie for the Section II large-school championship. Before that sweep the Brothers’ hadn’t prevailed in a playoff game since 1999.
“We knew it had been a long time since CBA won a playoff game,” said Cillis, who completed 10 of his 16 passes. “It was in the back of our minds. That pumped us up.”
CBA notched its first shutout of the season at the expense of Schenectady (Liberty No. 3, 3-5), which operated without rushing leader Felix Rodriguez, who wore a cast over his broken hand. Earl Ricketts intercepted two passes by Kwame Jarvis, Wynn picked off another, Torey Williams forced a fumble and recovered it, and Andrew Curro and Dan Coppola recorded sacks.
“We tried to spread them out,” said Kramer. “We made plays, but we didn’t make enough plays in a row.”
Schenectady came up empty in the second quarter after reaching the CBA 15, and again in the fourth frame after a 48-yard reception by Jallah Tarver pushed the ball to the Brothers’ 20.
“We played a lot of bend-but-not-break defense,” said Burke. “I thought we were very sound, defensively. Schenectady concerned me.”
CBA took away the Patriots running attack, and as it built the lead, forced the visitors to pass. Jarvis ended up completing 10 of 27 passes for 199 yards. Tarver made five grabs for 138 of those yards in the Pats second quarterfinal loss in as many years.
Wynn scored on a 15-yard run, Williams’ recovery set up a one-yard touchdown run by Zappone, and Zappone took a screen pass 54 yards to the end zone to give CBA a 20-0 lead heading into the second quarter. Cillis threw a 58-yard scoring pass to Luizzi in the second period, and on his only third-quarter pass, the senior quarterback found Rustowicz for a 12-yard touchdown.
Zappone scored his third touchdown of the night and fifth in two games later in the third quarter on a five-yard run.
“I thought everything was clicking tonight,” said Burke. “We had the inside run and the outside run, and we had the passing game. Our quarterback took advantage of dead areas.”
“The line was making holes and giving me time to throw. The running backs ran hard and found those holes,” said Cillis, after CBA reached the 40-point mark for the fifth time this year. “Everything was working.”
Columbia advanced with a 40-19 win over Guilderland.
“Coach has confidence in us,” said Zappone. “He thinks we can keep winning. We do, too.”
Schenectady 0 0 0 0 — 0
CBA 20 7 13 0 — 40
C — Wynn 15 run (Jensen kick).
C — Zappone 1 run (Jensen kick).
C — Zappone 54 pass from Cillis (kick blocked).
C — Luizzi 58 pass from Cillis (Jensen kick).
C — Rustowicz 12 pass from Cillis (kick failed).
C — Zappone 5 run (Jensen kick).
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Categories: High School Sports