Manlius A full regular season has passed, and neither the Fayetteville-Manlius nor Christian Brothers Academy football teams have lost yet.
As a result, the Hornets and Brothers enter the Section III Class AA playoffs as the top seeds, knowing two wins separate them from a potentially epic clash in the Carrier Dome on Nov. 10.
From the most technical of standpoints, F-M had nothing at stake in Friday night's game against Auburn, since its play in the first six weeks had assured a Class AA-2 division crown and a top Section III playoff seed.
But the state no. 9-ranked Hornets badly wanted an unbeaten regular season, and instead of getting discouraged when it trailed the Maroons, three different times, it rallied on each occasion, and got the conversions it needed to prevail by a score of 35-34.
Auburn, like F-M, was locked into its playoff seed, the Maroons guaranteed fourth place in AA-1 and heading toward next Friday's first-round game at CBA.
Yet the Maroons did not act content, nor was it overwhelmed by the challenge of F-M. Instead, it jumped out to a 14-0 lead before the Hornets could settle down. Trevor Ash put Auburn in front with an 11-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and Julius Mizro broke loose with a 49-yard scoring run minutes later.
Then F-M put together its first comeback. A long pass from Jake Wittig to Jack Wilson set up Josh Pulver's two-yard scoring run, and before the first quarter was done, Pulver found the end zone again on a 38-yard dash, tying it 14-14.
When Wittig found Luke Krizman deep for a 65-yard TD pass with 7:15 left in the first half, the Hornets seized a 21-14 lead, but now it was Auburn who would fight back.
Driving right down the field, the Maroons pulled even, 21-21, with Justin Valentino's 17-yard TD pass to Jack Burgmaster, and just before the half Valentino hit Trevor Ash on a 20-yard scoring pass.