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Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013: Mahopac youth football plyer seriously injured

   Leading off today: An eighth-grade football player in Mahopac suffered a traumatic brain injury from a freakish injury during practice Friday and required emergency surgery to treat a blood clot, The Journal News reported.

   The paper reported Justin Sacco faces a long recovery from the injury, the result of an accidental blow to the head that reportedly caused a fractured skull and bleeding in his brain.

   The paper reported Sacco, 13, was initially placed in a medically induced coma but he has since regained consciousness. He reportedly walked briefly on Wednesday, five days after the accident.

   Anthony Sacco said his son is expected to be moved to Blythedale Childrenís Hospital this week to begin rehabilitation; the youth's prognosis remains unclear, his father said.

   Sacco was playing catch with Mahopac Sports Association teammates before a walk-through practice, in which players typically do not wear helmets or pads and drills and performed in slow-motion. While reaching to pick a ball off the ground, Sacco was kneed in the head by a sprinting teammate.

   Sacco initially shook off the blow, which coaches apparently did not see, then complained of a headache after a brief warmup lap, the paper reported.

   Following up: In an important story Thursday, The Buffalo News reported that Portville coaches' examination of game film found no obvious cause behind the head injury that led to the death of Westfield/Brocton running back Damon Janes last month.

   That seemingly contradicts multiple reports -- including summaries on this site of news stories -- that Janes sustained the injury from a head-to-head blow Sept. 13.

   Portville coach Gary Swetland showed the game film to his players two days after the injury -- before Janes died -- to reassure them that no one should feel as though they had done something wrong.

   ďI didnít want players thinking that I was involved in something that killed someone," Swetland told the paper, "or 'I did something wrong,' or 'Iím responsible in some way.' It simply isnít the case. No high school player is responsible for what happened to Damon Janes.Ē

   Swetland said he could not find evidence of a violent head-to-head collision. "There is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary," he said.

   Janesí official cause of death has not been released.

   Suspension handed down: Yonkers senior midfielder Chris Cruz was suspended Thursday for 16 games by Section 1 for allegedly shoving an official during a soccer game last month, The Journal News reported.

   The penalty, which effectively ends Cruz's scholastic soccer career, was handed down by a committee made up of area athletic directors and principals following a hearing Monday.

   The incident took place Sept. 17 in a game vs. the Scarsdale Varsity B squad after referee Pat Godfrey called a penalty kick in overtime.

   Playing it safe: Hoosic Valley football coach Pete Porcelli has opted to forfeit this weekend's game against Rensselaer, ranked fifth in the state in Class D, rather than put too many inexperienced players on the field.

   Hoosic Valley (0-4) likely would have had more than the 16 healthy players mandated by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association rules, The Times Union reported. But Porcelli felt too many young players with little to no varsity experience -- including a freshman quarterback -- might be exposed to injury, potentially putting the remainder of the season at risk. football site

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   "This was my call. We had to do it out of necessity," Porcelli said. "Our quarterback (Colin Claus) hurt his ribs and was not cleared to return until Monday and I just didn't want to start a ninth-grade quarterback. ... There was no sense in trying to fight through the Rensselaer game."

   Classes A and C in the spotlight: The weekend's schedule in football includes a strong slate of games involving state-ranked teams.

   For quality at the top, it'a hard to beat Class A: Top-ranked Lawrence plays No. 22 Plainedge, No. 2 Sweet Home meets No. 13 Grand Island and No. 4 Garden City takes on No. 9 Carey.

   And then there's Class C, where nine of the 20 teams ranked this week by the NYSSWA face ranked opponents. The most significant of the bunch may be No. 7 Chatham vs. No. 11 Fonda-Fultonville, because the implication there is that the winner becomes favored to meet Hoosick Falls, ranked No. 1 in the state, in the Section 2 final next month.

   Also, No. 13 East Rochester/Gananda lost a hard-fought game to Class B Geneva a week ago and now turns around to play another larger foe: Newark, ranked 17th in Class B.

   You can view the Week 5 computer projections by Ed Bemiss here.

   A couple of items from MaxPreps: So you think your school has nice athletic training facilities and technology? Check out IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., long a training facility for elite athletes and now fielding a high school football team.

   Maine-Endwell is ranked 15th in the nation among small schools in MaxPreps' computer ratings.

   Business as usual: A pair of girls sports programs continued their winning ways this week.

   The Fayetteville-Manlius girls tennis team improved to 12-0 for the season and won its 325th consecutive dual match Tuesday with a 5-2 victory against Baldwinsville. The last loss came to Liverpool in 1993.

   Meanwhile, the Pearl River girls cross country team ran its streak of victories to 200 dual meets since 1990 with a 15-50 win against Nyack.

   Despite resting several top performers, the Pirates swept the first 12 places Tuesday.

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