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      CNY Central Athlete of the Week: Running back Ricky Sparks fills big shoes at Baldwinsville

      Ricky Sparks scores the game-winning touchdown over C-NS in Week 1

      45 touchdowns and 2,977 one difficult to forget. But, Baldwinsville senior Ricky Sparks has emerged from the shadow of Tyler Rouse as the Bees go-to guy in 2013.

      In two games, Sparks has 5 touchdowns in two Baldwinsville victories, getting the same amount of carries Rouse got just one year ago. He says so far it's been a dream come true.

      "It's crazy being the starter this year, obviously I was second string last year and got some carries behind Tyler," Sparks says. "The whole offseason has been a roller coaster ride but I was ready for it."

      Sparks and Rouse are good friends, and still speak to each other regularly. Head coach Carl Sanfilippo has seen running back after running back come through his system for decades, and has been watching Sparks' progress for awhile.

      "He's a great kid and he's been in the program for a long time," Sanfilippo says. "He's doing what he's supposed to do. It's his job to carry the ball and to get yards and it's the offensive line's job to block. He's responded well and he deserves everything he gets."

      Obviously filling the shoes of Rouse was a key factor in Baldwinsville's success this season, but Sparks says he did not feel much pressure coming into the season.

      "I knew what it was going to be about," he says. "Tyler's gone, so the question was who's going to be the next one up, so I just had to play my game and see what I can do."

      While Sparks says he knew what he was getting himself into, Sanfilippo says it's simply Sparks' turn to be the star.

      "He waited his turn and in our program we believe it's all about a pecking order and waiting your turn," Sanfilippo says. "His turn came and when the bus stops you got to be ready to get on it, and Ricky got on and he's on his way to his journey."

      Sparks says football has been his release since playing as a little kid, and seeing the lights on Friday nights is all the motivation he needs to get out there and perform.

      As for the next step, he says he'd love to play football in college. He wants to study engineering , and is looking at several colleges and universities. He actually visited Rouse at Boston College, and thinks that area suits him well, so he's looking at BC, Northeastern and Boston University, as well as RIT and Clarkson locally.