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South Bronx is back atop Cup Division

As was the case last season, South Bronx is running through the Cup Division without much of a problem. After Saturday’s 40-0 win over formerly undefeated Petrides, the Phoenix are 5-0.

Their average margin of victory is over 30 points per game and they have scored at least 28 points in each contest.

The similarities end there, coach Jose Cosme said. This team isn’t nearly as athletic and lethal on either side of the ball. But what it lacks up in physical gifts, it makes up for in smarts and maturity.

“This year, we know what we are capable of,” he said.

The current crops of seniors, led by fullback Michael Drake and wide receiver Louis Sanchez, know what overconfidence can do. It turned an undefeated regular season into playoff heartache. It is a lesson they often repeat, be in during practice or games.

Although the coach downplayed the talent level on his team, and said 5-0 Automotive is the team to beat in the division, he has plenty of playmakers at his disposal. Sophomore cornerbacks Arbely Soto and Joseph Garcia have started from day one, a pair of heavy-hitting ballhawks in the secondary Cosme says “brings speed, fearlessness, things you usually don’t get in kids that age.”

Then there is the surprising play of newcomers Eddie Dickson, a talented running back/linebacker and defensive tackle Ramon Ferreras, who has recovered from a major ankle injury last year.

South Bronx is certainly putting itself in a prime position to reach the Cup Division final. Saturday’s mauling of Petrides was typical of the Phoenix’s season. The game was tight until Petrides started making mistakes -- such as two fumbled kickoffs and an interception -- and Cosme’s kids took full advantage.

Still, the biggest play of the game came at the end of the first half. Leading 6-0, Cosme was willing to take a knee, but an assistant coach nudged him into calling an option pass to Drake. On the run, the strong-armed veteran hit Sanchez in stride 50 yards downfield for what ended up as a 66-yard pass and catch.

“It changed the dynamic of the game,” Cosme said.

The fact that this group has started so similar to last year’s make sense to Cosme in a roundabout way. The program has had its ups and downs in recent years, such as the 5-5 season two years ago, three wins the year before, last year’s perfect regular season, the semifinal loss to eventual Cup champ George Washington, and now this flying start.

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