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Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013: Rift between all-state player, school

   Leading off today: The reigning Section 8 football player of the year says he was unfairly kicked off the East Meadow team after suffering an injury days before the season started, Newsday reported this week.

   Billy Andrle, a first-team all-state running back last fall who won the Nassau County Thorp Award, broke his right wrist during an August practice.

   "If I could play tomorrow, I would," Andrle told the newspaper. "But my mom doesn't want me to risk permanent injury and that makes sense."

   Donna Andrle said doctors suggested fitting her son with a cast that would allow him to play. However, she vetoed the idea because of the risk of additional damage in his role as a running back and linebacker.

   Andrle says that when he informed coach Vinny Mascia that he could not play, Mascia told him not to return to the team.

   "Coach Mascia sat me down in the gym and asked me if my decision not to play was final and I said, 'Yes,'" Andrle said. "He told me to clean out my locker and don't come to practice anymore because you can find better things to do with your time. I was crushed."

   Attorney Tom Liotti said he planned to file a notice of claim against East Meadow school officials on behalf of the player. "He was not treated with the honor and respect that a top athlete deserves," Liotti said. "It's not the way you treat a star. This damages his reputation and prospects for college. They called him a quitter."

   East Meadow Superintendent Louis DeAngelo said in a statement Friday that the football team would welcome Andrle back if he wants to play.

   New details: Oscar Jensen's sudden dismissal as the Marcellus cross country coach this week apparently stemmed from at least one runner starting practice in August without the proper medical forms in place, The Post-Standard reported.

   The paper cited sources who confirmed that Jensen was let go at least in part because of the paperwork issue. One source said school officials self-reported the infraction to Section 3 and no penalties beyond a censure resulted.

   Heading to court: A fairly interesting case has landed on Friday's docket for State Supreme Court in Rochester. Unless she's granted relief by Justice Thomas Stander, Davidson College girls basketball recruit Diona Johnson's scholastic career likely will be over.

   Johnson, a 5-foot-9 shooting guard, averaged about 18 points a game last winter while helping Gates Chili to a Section 5 Class AA championship and an appearance in the NYSPHSAA title game against Ossining. Given that she was listed as a junior and had turned 17 years old less than a month before the state final, the natural expectaton was that Johnson would be back this winter for an encore.

   Now, though, that's to be hashed out by Stander following arguments by attorneys for Johnson, Section 5 and the NYSPHSAA. Here's the background:

   As an eighth-grader at Churchville-Chili in 2008, Johnson went through the selective classification process, which allowed her to move up to play on the junior varsity. By season's end, she also played for the varsity. football site

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   At the end of the school year, according to a source familiar with the dispute, Johnson's parents sought to have her repeat eighth grade -- a request denied by the school.

   Johnson subsequently transferred to Aquinas in the fall of 2009. She remained there for two years, and the Aquinas roster listed Johnson as a sophomore for the 2010-11 season. She was still listed as a sophomore upon arriving at Gates Chili and playing there beginning in 2011.

   It's commonly understood under State Education Department regulations adhered to by the NYSPHSAA that a student in New York has four years of athletic eligibility upon entering ninth grade, with the added stipulation that they cannot turn 19 before the start of the final school year of eligibility.

   Section 5 and the NYSPHSAA, however, are banking on a clause in the state athletic association handbook dealing with duration of competition that further defines the eligibility clock as starting a five-year window of opportunity beginning with eighth grade.

   If the court reads the rule the same way I do, Johnson's high school career is over, though I'll throw out one more possibility: It's conceivable that Stander will rule that Johnson has not exhausted her appeal options with the State Education Department and tells her attorney to pursue that route -- which could be a very lengthy process -- before returning to court.

   Quite the recovery: Elmira Notre Dame began its football season by forfeiting to Tioga because it had only 14 eligible players.

   Five weeks later, the Crusaders are 5-1 after their 34-15 victory against Groton on Friday to clinch the Section 4 Division VII title.

   “The best compliment I can give our kids is they’ve worked so hard to improve every week,” coach Mike D’Aloisio told the Star-Gazette. “The numbers are still down — we’re at 17, 18 guys who are healthy. I just give all the credit to the players and the assistant coaches for what they’ve done with these guys until this point of the season.

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