North Syracuse Step one of the quest to revive the Cicero-North Syracuse football program involved making the team more competitive has been taken . Now, in 2014, it wants a lot more.
After years of languishing at the bottom of the standings, the Northstars, under first-year head coach Joe Sindoni, rose to a 4-5 mark in 2013, just missing a return to the Section III Class AA playoffs and creating a hunger to do even more this fall.
This leads to the second step – winning against more established powers so that C-NS can reach the post-season, by which time a brand-new Field Turf at Bragman Stadium will be in place.
To do that, C-NS would have to overcome adversity that went beyond replacing the likes of two-way superstar Mitch Dunay, who’s now at Princeton.
When practices opened Aug. 18, the Northstars worked on a grass field behind Bragman Stadium. But a combination of heavy traffic (many different C-NS teams shared the field) and heavy rains turned it into a quagmire, and even got an assistant coach hurt.
Thus, by the end of the first week, C-NS found itself scrambling for a new practice venue. It spent a day on the Central Square turf, but then moved to North Syracuse Junior High School on Taft Road, where it will practice all the way to the end of September.
Even the scrimmage on Saturday changed, with Central Square replaced by CBA (where Sindoni graduated and served as an assistant under Joe Casamento).
What has sustained the Northstars through all of these upheavals is the increased enthusiasm for the program. Numbers are up for all the teams, and Sindoni said that 30 to 40 varsity players were regular participants in off-season conditioning programs.
“We had a lot more kids buy in to our program,” said Sindoni. “We have a lot back, and we’ve taken a step forward. But the problem is that every team we face is good, and you don’t know how much you’ve improved until you play them.”