TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — “Three” is typically the magic number thrown around for championships when qualifying teams as a “dynasty.” And if that’s the case, Christian Brothers Academy has officially entered into dynasty mode.
The Brothers claimed their third straight Section II, Class AA title Friday night with an 18-15 win over Shenendehowa at Troy High School – the longtime former home of CBA head coach Bob Burns, who guided the Flying Horses to two state titles and three undefeated seasons during his time there.
Now, Burns has the Brothers back in the state tournament for a third consecutive season. But he hasn’t been the only constant through that run. Do-it-all senior Donald Jones played a massive role in the first two championship games, and Friday night was no different.
There’s a reason Jones is listed as wide receiver, quarterback and defensive back on CBA’s roster. The Brothers scored three touchdowns on the night, and Jones had a hand in every single one: receiving, passing and taking an interception back to the house.
Not that he needed the added motivation when already pursuing a coveted three-peat, but Jones received a challenge from his head coach prior the game that fueled his effort.
“I got a text from Coach Burns on the bus ride over here that said, “I need you to be the best player on the field,”” said Jones. “All I texted (back) in all exclamation points was, “I will.” He loved the message, so I just had to prove my point to him.”
“He’s (Jones) the face of this program,” added Burns. “Everybody says, “Well (Bob) came here three years ago.” Listen, it’s because of him. He’s been with me for three years, and I told him, “We’re gonna ride it ’til the wheels come off.” We’re just gonna keep rolling.”
CBA avenged a 28-14 loss suffered against Shen back in Week 5. At the time, Burns was mixing up looks at quarterback, rotating between sophomore Archie Jones, who got the nod in that game, senior Jake Iacobaccio and Donald Jones.
Iacobaccio had the keys to the bus Friday, and was the primary signal caller for much of the evening. On the Brothers’ second drive of the game, he hooked up with Jones on a 14-yard touchdown strike for the game’s first points at the 4:33 mark of the opening quarter.
It’d stay a 6-0 game until nearly midway through the second stanza. With CBA driving, Shen’s Blake Mello intercepted Iacobaccio, and returned it all the way back to the Brothers’ six-yard line. Two plays later, Mello plunged into the end zone from one yard out on a QB sneak, and a Joshua DuBray PAT gave the Plainsmen their first lead of the game.
But CBA would muster a response before the half. After a Jones punt return brought the offense inside the red zone to start their possession, it took the Brothers one play to find the end zone. Iacobaccio handed the ball off to Jones on a jet sweep, and Jones aired it out for junior receiver Lorenzo Lanni, who hauled in the 17-yard TD pass, reclaiming CBA a five-point edge, which it would take into the locker room.
Shen marched right down the field on its’ opening series of the second half, looking keen to move back out in front. But a Michael Whatley play-action pass intended for Ryan Durkee was tipped and picked off by Jones, who took it back 98 yards for his third score of the night, extending the Brothers’ advantage to 11 points at 18-7.
But just as the Brian Clawson’s bunch did in the regular season meeting, they refused to quit. Another Blake Mello one-yard touchdown on the ground, followed by a Mello two-point conversion cut the deficit to three points with 6:30 to play in the fourth quarter.
Shen immediately forced a three-and-out, and got the ball back in CBA territory with still over four minutes remaining. But after getting behind the chains on first and second down, Whatley was strip-sacked by Anthony D’Aloia, Jake Marra recovered the fumble and the offense ran out the remainder of the clock from there to seal the victory.
“We got a lot of the guys on the team – like Jake Iacobaccio, (for example) – who have never experienced this,” said Burns. “That’s what’s special – to see the looks on their faces when they’re able to accomplish something (like this). I’m happy for my kids, and hopefully, we can keep it rollin’.
CBA (9-1) awaits the winner of the Section IX championship game between Middletown and Newburgh Free Academy in regionals. That regional game will be held at Middletown Faller Field next Saturday, Nov. 18 at noon.
Fortunately, for Shen (9-1), Section II has two bids to the state tournament for both Class AA and Class A this season. So, the Plainsmen will occupy the alternate spot and take on the Section I champion in regionals. They’ll either face undefeated Arlington, currently ranked eighth in the state for Class AA, or No. 16 Carmel. That regional game will be held next Saturday as well at Mahopac High School. Opening kickoff is slated for 3:00 p.m.