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Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012: Chiefs linebacker in tragedy has L.I. roots

   Leading off today: Former West Babylon sports standout Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend Saturday, then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and committed suicide in front of his coach and general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs.

   The West Babylon native, who played collegiate football at the University of Maine before making it to the NFL as an undrafted free agent, was 25.

   Authorities in Kansas City said the linebacker and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, 22, had been arguing recently. They leave behind a 3-month-old daughter.

   Belcher reportedly thanked GM Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel before shooting himself in front of the practice facility.

   At West Babylon High, Belcher played at times on both lines as well as linebacker and fullback. He also wrestled during the winter.

   "He was pretty cool, a good guy, a team leader," former Maine teammate Antonio Walcott told The New York Daily News. "He was a leader. Everyone on the team looked up to him. He was a vocal guy. He had the best talent on the team so everyone followed him."

   F-M defends: Seven the hard way? Hardly. Instead, the Fayetteville-Manlius girls cruised to yet another Nike Cross Nationals championship Saturday morning in Portland, Ore., easily handling the mud and the competition.

   F-M won its seventh consecutive national crown with just 54 points, followed by Southlake (Texas) Carroll (198) and Indiana's Carmel High (209). East Aurora was fourth at 212 and Saratoga fifth with 218 points.

   Simi Valley (Calif.) junior Sarah Baxter repeated as individual champ in 19:16.79 to hold off New York regional champion Mary Cain (19:20.88), the Bronxville standout currently competing unattached.

   Taylor Driscoll of Saratoga was ninth, and then came a stream of Fayetteville-Manlius runners led by Jillian Fanning in 21st, Jillian Barger in 22nd and Katie Brislin in 29th on a soggy loop course with considerable mud.

   "Honestly we've been training in mud just as bad, if not worse, than this," Fanning told The Post-Standard. "We were ready for it. I was looking forward to it. It brings out the best in us and makes us more confident because we know it's just like practice at home."

   Arcadia, Calif., won its second boys title in three years, rallying late to edge Utah's American Fork 108-122. Saratoga and Fayetteville-Manlius were 12th and 16th, respectively.

   Sam Wharton of Tippecanoe, Ohio, won the boys' individual title in 17:05.51.


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   Lawrence avenges loss: Lawrence rallied past Sayville in the fourth quarter of the Long Island Class III championship game for a 21-20 victory that avenged the wild 78-61 loss in last fall's football title game.

   Down 20-7 at the half, the Golden Tornadoes took their only lead with 5:25 to go on Ed Robinson's 30-yard pick six, assuring Lawrence of the co-No. 1 spot with Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in the final NYSSWA Class A rankings. Sayville is No. 3 this week.

   “They say offense wins games but defense finally won us a championship,” Robinson told, alluding to the crazy 2011 final.

   Lewinger leaves the bench: Joe Lewinger, who left the team twice since 2008 after his 4-year-old twins were diagnosed with cancer, has stepped down as girls basketball coach at The Mary Louis Academy -- this time for good.

   Lewinger, 34, told his players he was retiring from coaching to focus on administrative duties including being AD for the school's 29 teams, The New York Daily News reported. He is also the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens girls JV soccer commissioner and intersectional coordinator for soccer.

   “It finally became crystal clear to me that I would not be able to do both positions at the same time,” Lewinger said. “I just said to myself, ‘It’s time.’”

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   Former JV coach JoAnn Arbitello has taken over the varsity coaching duties. Arbitello's brother Joe is the boys coach at Christ the King., and their brother Rob will be her assistant.

   Lewinger won more than 100 games in 11 seasons and captured two state Federation titles.

   Extra points: Services were held Thursday for former Ithaca High football coach Joe Moresco, who died at the age of 86. His teams reached the top from 1969-73 with a 34-0-1 run.

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