Through five games, Christian Brothers Academy football has allowed precisely one touchdown.
“And I’m still mad about it,” CBA coach Bobby Burns said with a wry smile following his team’s 53-0 win last Saturday at Schenectady.
That touchdown, scored by Bethlehem in the Brothers’ 60-6 Week 3 win, is all that’s stopping CBA (3-0 Class AA, 5-0 overall) from keeping a completely blank slate thus far in Burns’ first season as head coach, having taken the job this year following a successful run at Troy that saw his teams capture back-to-back Class AA state championships in 2016 and 2017.
The shutouts aren’t a particular objective for the Brothers, Burns said, but simply a byproduct of a fierce defensive performance.
“Defensively, we’re pretty good,” he said. “I’ve had some good defenses in the past, and this one’s pretty good. Our front seven is good. I’ve got some big kids up front, they get after it.
“It’s not like we’re trying to shut everybody out or anything. We’re just playing. The kids are buying into what we’re coaching them, and it’s showing on the field.”
That defense, and the whole CBA team, will likely find its toughest test thus far on Friday at 7 p.m. when they host fellow unbeaten Shaker with first place in the Section II Class AA standings at stake.
The two teams have been on a collision course through the first month of the season, with both unbeaten and ranked in the top 15 statewide by the New York State Sportswriters Association.
CBA has blown the doors off its five opponents, outsourcing them by a combined margin of 221-6. The Brothers’ toughest test came in its 20-0 win over rival La Salle Institute in Week 0, with its four subsequent victories all coming by at least 40 points.
With Burns installing a new offensive system at CBA, the offense started slowly against La Salle — something Burns also chalked up to numerous key players sitting out that Week 0 matchup — but has found a serious groove over the past four weeks. Jack Gregory and Donald Jones both see time at quarterback, while Brenden Simek has developed into a workhorse running back and Jaylen Riggins provides a versatile option at fullback.
“They’re kind of getting used to the system,” Burns said, “because it was something new for them as well. Plus, I’m getting used to calling it in certain situations and getting players opportunities that I think deserve them.”
Meanwhile, Shaker (3-0, 4-0) has similarly dispatched with its opposition. Led by explosive senior halfback Porter Ninstant and emerging star sophomore quarterback Jake Iacobaccio, coach Greg Sheeler’s Blue Bison — who were upset by Guilderland in the “Fall II” Class AA championship game last spring — have won all of their games by at least two touchdowns, with the only major challenge coming in a Week 3 win over Shenendehowa that saw Iacobaccio seal the 28-14 verdict in the fourth quarter with a touchdown run and an interception.
For a CBA team that’s three previous Class AA opponents have a combined record of 1-12, Shaker represents a major step up in quality of competition.
It’s a game Burns and his club have been zeroing in on for a while now.
“Everybody’s looked at it on the schedule,” Burns said. “As much as we can say that we’ve focused on the first first games — and we were — we knew this game was coming down the pipe. We knew they’d probably be undefeated, we’d probably be undefeated.
“It’s a big game, but at the end of the day, it’s just another game. We’re home, and it should be a great atmosphere, so we’re going to be excited to go out and compete.”