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Aug. 24, 2013: Star's scary injury mars televised H.S. football game

   Leading off today: Right out of the box today we were reminded that injuries in high school football can be every bit as frightful as in Division I or professional football, where the players are bigger, faster and stronger.

   With ESPN cameras capturing the image, Zack Darlington, a top QB prospect committed to the University of Nebraska, was airlifted from the campus by helicopter and transported to a local hospital in Duncan, S.C. as his Apopka (Fla.) teammates lost 51-36 to Byrnes (S.C.) High.

   ESPN reported Darlington was unconscious for a period of time and lay motionless as he was put onto a stretcher. As the game ended, players turned to watch the helicopter carrying Darlington leave the adjacent practice field.

   “The diagnosis is that he has a concussion and has to be under observation for 24 hours,'' Apopka AD Fred Priest told the Orlando Sentinel. “His parents [Rick, the Blue Darters’ coach, and Shelly] are staying here with him while the team returns home.''

   Darlington, who was injured in a sideline collision while scrambling midway through the fourth quarter, was administered oxygen on the field. Priest said Darlington was moving his extremities.

   “Football is a collision sport,” said Byrnes quarterback Shuler Bentley, who threw six TD passes. “That could have been anybody. You never know when your time may be [up]. That’s why you give 100 percent every down.’’

   Apopka won the Class 8A state title last season with Darlington at quarterback.

   On Friday, a South Florida high school referee died after collapsing on the field during a preseason football game. The Palm Beach Post reported Jerry Lohmann suffered an apparent heart attack during the second quarter at Olympic Heights High School.

   'Dean the Dream' dies: Dean Meminger, a New York City scholastic star who went on to play for the New York Knicks’ 1973 NBA championship team, was found dead Friday in a hotel room in Upper Manhattan. He was 65.

   Staff at the Casablanca Hotel discovered Meminger unconscious in his room. The cause of death was under investigation, but the police said there were no signs of trauma, The New York Times reported.

   Meminger was a star at Rice High in Manhattan before playing for the late Al McGuire at Marquette.

   Meminger was “quicker than 11:15 Mass at a seaside resort,” McGuire used to tell reporters.

   Meminger was the Knicks' first-round pick in 1971, joining a backcourt led by Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe. The Knicks won the NBA title in his second season.

   Girls basketball: As usual, Joseph Staszewski at the Community Newspaper Group in New York City has been digging up significant stories.

   Topping the list, he tweeted that rising senior Aaliyah Jones is on the move. Jones, who led Bishop Ford to the Federation Class AA girls basketball championship last March in Albany, told Staszewski she is transferring to Medgar Evers in the PSAL next month.

   Medgar Evers will be coached by Mike Toro, who ran Bishop Ford until he was suspended late last season during a school probe into possible impermissible financial aid to athletes.

   In other off-the-court news, Staszewski reported that the CHSAA girls basketball league as well as other sports are moving toward a realignment into an intersectional organization with Class AA, A and B divisions. Currently, girls teams play diocese-based league schedules with no true city playoffs.

   The process starts this fall in volleyball and soccer with non-league crossover games between squads from the Brooklyn-Queens and Bronx-Westchester leagues to gauge teams’ level of play. That should help league officials put together an intersectional system in 2014-15. Brooklyn-Queens girls Class AA soccer teams had football site

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crossed over with Staten Island clubs in a similar manner for the last two years.

   “What we are trying to do is address the parity situation in different leagues in the city,” Mary Louis AD Joe Lewinger said. “We want to be able to increase the opportunities for competitive play on every level.”

   Catholic boys school teams have competed in citywide playoffs for decades.

   Huge gift for M-E: A $2.2 million gift could allow Maine-Endwell to play home baseball games in a state-of-the-art facility replete with synthetic turf next spring, The Press & Sun-Bulletin reported.

   District officials disclosed the gift from Thomas and Alba Tull on Friday. Thomas Tull, a member of M-E’s Class of 1988, is chairman and CEO of California-based Legendary Entertainment (the folks behind The Dark Knight trilogy) as well as part-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

   Pending board of education acceptance of the gift and State Education Department approval, the money will be used on a new baseball field and lights at the district’s multi-purpose stadium.

   “Alba and I are pleased to support the athletics program at Maine-Endwell, as well as leadership like (M-E baseball) coach Gary Crooks, who continue to inspire young athletes from this community,” Thomas Tull said in a statement released by the district.

   Maine-Endwell AD Dave Cook said plans call for the existing baseball facility to be torn down and replaced with new dugouts, fencing, backstop, bleachers, press box and scoreboard. The playing surface will be FieldTurf, same as on the multi-sport field. The baseball facility would be able to accommodate fall sports teams for practice time now spent on the primary field.

   Crooks said Tull has provided the baseball program with uniforms, caps, dozens upon dozens of baseballs and other necessities in recent years.

   Extra points: Section 5 basketball power Bishop Kearney lost Thomas Bryant this week in a transfer to Huntington Prep in West Virginia, but the Kings appear to be getting some help in the form of Jamestown standout Branden Kellam.

   After helping Jamestown to the state quarterfinals last winter by averaging 11 points and 9.7 rebounds, the 6-foot-5 rising junior is joining the defending NYSPHSAA Class AA champions. After moving to Jamestown as a freshman and playing two seasons for the Red Raiders, Kellam returned this summer to Rochester where his mother lives. He had been playing summer ball on a team consisting largely of Aquinas players, but a source familiar with that school said Kellam has not enrolled there.

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