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Monday, Dec. 17, 2012: Eastridge lineman Officer commits to Pitt

   Leading off today: Eastridge two-way lineman Alex Officer said over the weekend he has committed to continuing his football career at the University of Pittsburgh next fall.

   Officer was a second-team all-state defensive lineman in Class A a year ago and helped the Lancers to the NYSPHSAA quarterfinals last month. He is projected as an offensive lineman at Pitt, where he is the 20th player in the class of 2013 to have committed thus far.

   Officer picked the Panthers over Boston College, Purdue, Rutgers and Syracuse.

   Over before it started: New York City education officials are confident that the cleanup from Hurricane Sandy will be done in time to re-open Beach Channel High School after the holidays, but that won't be enough to salvage the boys basketball season.

   With his players scattered far and wide by the damage to the school as well as neighborhoods in the Rockaways, coach Jim Malone had held out hope he might eventually begin his 25th season on the bench in the PSAL Queens AA division. But a string of postponed games and the inability to so much as practice since the Oct. 29 storm made it impossible.

   The Beach Channel campus has been closed since flood waters caused two large oil tanks to spill in the basement.

   This kid gets around: Andrew Bikowsky is more than a three-sporter in Central New York. He's also a three-schooler.

   Bikowsky played football for Waterville in the fall, is currently wrestling for Morrisville-Eaton and plans to play baseball in the spring for Madison, the school he actually attends.

   It's nothing new for the junior. He’s in his second year wrestling at Morrisville-Eaton, and he played modified football at Waterville and Hamilton before making the varsity this past fall.

   “It’s too bad that the local school can’t offer all the sports like other schools,” Paul Bikowsky, Andrew's father, told the Oneida Dispatch. “We just go with the flow.”

   Bikowsky enjoyed a bit of athletic home cooking last week when Morrisville-Eaton wrestled Sherburne-Earlville in Madison’s gym. Coach Duane LeBlanc’s squad mothballed their red singlets and donned the Blue Devils' blue and white for the meet.

   ESG officials launch fundraising effort: The Empire State Sports Foundation, which is reviving the Empire State Games next February in Lake Placid and July in Rochester, has announced a "Fuel The Torch" fundraising campaign.

   “Work is progressing every day to bring back the games, but to make these the biggest and best Empire State Games they can be, we need athletes, alumni and all the people of New York to show their support and give from their heart," said Scott Bell, chief operating officer of the foundation.

   With the state no longer formally involved in the ESGs, the games depend primarily on individual and corporate contributions to the non-profit foundation. Suggested giving levels for individuals range from $15 ("bronze level") to

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$250 ("adopt an athlete").

   Rape accusation splits Ohio city: The New York Times generally doesn't delve into the world of high school sports. But when sports and crime merge, that's a different matter.

   The paper delivered a fascinating -- and chilling -- 5,800 words Monday on the ongoing drama in Steubenville, Ohio, which is being torn apart by accusations of rape by football players during a summer party fueled by alcohol.

   Some of the alleged crimes were captured on camera phones and spread across the Internet via social media and photo upload sites, triggering outrage first at football players, then police and school officials over whether there was foot-dragging because of Steubenville's prowess on the football field. The team has won nine Ohio championships, including back-to-back undefeated seasons in 2005-06.

   As the story notes, "the case is not the first time a high school football team has been entangled in accusations of sexual assault. But the situation in Steubenville has another layer to it that separates it from many others: It is a sexual assault accusation in the age of social media, when teenagers are capturing much of their lives on their camera phones — even repugnant, possibly criminal behavior, as they did in Steubenville in August — and then posting it on the Web, like a graphic, public diary."

   The story is time-consuming -- about the length of a 22-page term paper -- but it's a compelling read.

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