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Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013: Player arrested following downstate soccer fracas

   Leading off today: New York high school soccer is competitive, played at a high level compared to numerous states and has a passionate following.

   And at the moment it has one hell of an image problem.

   An altercation Wednesday during White Plains’ boys game at New Rochelle resulted in one player being sent to the hospital with a broken jaw and another player being arrested, The Journal News reported.

   Viewed individually, the incident was a blemish on the scholastic sport. But Yonkers senior Chris Cruz was suspended for 16 games by Section 1 last week for allegedly shoving a referee. And lumped in with Tuesday's incidents in Section 9 and the CHSAA, it's a reason to sit everyone down before practices and games today to remind them that the idea is to compete and win, not punch and pummel.

   White Plains junior Ozzie Escobedo was taken to Westchester Medical Center to have surgery on his broken jaw, Tigers coach Marcel Galligani told the newspaper. The New Rochelle player, whom police did not identify due to his age, was charged with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor.

   “I saw the kid absolutely throw a haymaker and punch him in the face,” Galligani told the paper.

   The incident took place late in the first half, precipitated by a foul on the far side of the field that triggered pushing and shoving. Officials called off the remainder of the scoreless game.

   White Plains vs. New Rochelle girls varsity and JV games scheduled for Thursday have been postponed.

   Looking ahead: The Week 6 schedule is a bit light with respect to matching up state-ranked football teams, but there are a few interesting contests between touted teams. Chief among them would be a pair of Class B games:

   No. 8 Peru vs. No. 12 Hackley became possible when Peru had to fill a midseason opening created when Plattsburgh folded its team. It's not often that NYSPHSAA and AIS members get together for a football game, and rarer still for both to be ranked at the time.

   Also in B, No. 11 Cheektowaga plays No. 10 Burgard. Coupled with the Class A tussle between No. 24 Williamsville South and No. 25 McKinley, it's a reminder that Buffalo's city schools fit in quite nicely in Section 6 after opting to disband the Harvard Cup to join the rest of the region's public schools.

   Milestone: Girls volleyball coach Brian Ellithorpe won his 300th match Wednesday with a Cazenovia sweep of Bishop Ludden.

   Ellithorpe has accumulated 260 wins at Cazenovia during the fall season and the rest at Morrisville-Eaton in the winter.

   Along with getting his 300th win, Ellithorpe got to see his daughters, Maleigha and Maddy, play together on the varsity for the first time.

   Coaching changes: Niskayuna's school board voted 4-3 on Tuesday to not bring back Ian McShane as boys basketball coach following allegations of abusive language that resulted in a one-game suspension during the 2011-12 season, The Times Union reported.

   In addition, Berne-Knox-Westerlo officials informed boys basketball coach Andy Wright that he will not be recommended for reappointment, a decision that had immediate fallout within the athletic department. Wright told the paper he believes parents upset over playing time cost him the job.

   "You've never seen anything like this before," Wright told the paper. "It is not a matter of winning or losing, it is some parents not satisfied with minutes for their kids."

   Feeling blindsided by the decision, Tom Galvin said he has resigned his position resigned as Berne-Knox-Westerlo AD but will continue to coach the girls basketball team.

   "I didn't have any idea about this," Galvin said. "(School officials) didn't tell me, so I could not in good conscience continue as athletic director under those circumstances.

   As a condition of reappointment two years ago, Wright was reportedly saddled with guidelines by the board to ensure each player was treated equally -- the implication being a board philosophy that participation trumphed football site

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   "That is not what varsity is about. If you want to go to intramurals, then let's go to intramurals," Galvin told the paper.

   Following up: On Wednesday, The Buffalo News revisited the story of David Gorczynski, the 20-year-old autistic Orchard Park student who fought for and received a waiver over the summer to continue running with the cross country team.

   Gorczynski's situation was unusual because the waiver he received from the State Education Department to continue competing beyond the four-year high school eligibility clock was his second, an accommodation not previously granted to a New York athlete. (Read previous blog.)

   Last month, the State Board of Regents passed an amendment allowing for multiple waivers from the age requirement. The State Education Department is expected to make it permanent in December.

   Importantly -- and wisely -- the new waiver policy will only apply to non-contact sports, alleviating a major concern of people worried about the possibility of someone as old as 21 possibly lining up on the football or lacrosse field against a 14-year-old. And if granted a waiver, the student would be able to participate, but their scores wouldn't count.

   Still, there's at least one valid concern that needs to be addressed: Creating this exception may start us down the road to more waiver requests and court challenges based on academic struggles or family situations that extend a student's high school education beyond four years. History tells us that cracking the door open to resolve one issue often attracts "me too" opportunists.

   "Our rules and regulations are developed to ensure fairness and equity amongst all students," Robert Zayas, executive director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, told a Gannett reporter. "We really feel like this real kind of creates inequities."

   Possible Sec. 1 solution: The girls volleyball committee is working on fixing a rule that would otherwise muck up the postseason tournament in Section 1, The Journal News reported.

   The Section 1 Athletic Council had previously ruled that accumulated qualifying points would be averaged over a 20-contest schedule, even though many teams use a chunk of those competitions in weekend tournament play that does not allow them to accumulate points.

   This week, though, area athletic directors came out in favor of averaging points (four per win plus bonus points for matches vs. opponents with a winning record) over 16 contests instead of 20. That would make it easier to reach the sectional eligibility threshold of about 1.6 points earned per contest without having to give up tournament play to schedule more dual matches.

   “We’re making positive strides,” Section 1 coordinator Diane Swertfager told the paper. “It’s very positive. We’re doing all the right things for the children.”

   The Section 1 tournament begins Oct. 24.

   You can read an earlier story on the issue here.

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