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Friday, Dec. 13, 2013: So you think your school district is screwed up?

   Leading off today: Some 347 days into 2013, I think I've found the winner for New York high school sports story of the year in the form of a painstakingly detailed account of chaos reported by Joe Werkmeister of the Riverhead News-Review.

   Sifting though Board of Education minutes and interviewing more than a dozen past and present coaches, administrators and board members, Werkmeister detailed how it is that the position of athletic director at Shoreham-Wading River has come to earn the reputation as the place where careers go to die.

   When Canton principal Mark Passamonte takes the helm Jan. 6 as the new S-WR athletic director, it will mark the ninth transition the position has undergone since 2005. Seven of those handoffs have come in the past six years, and the paper noted that none of the 11 Class A schools S-WR typically competes against during the regular season have had more than one change during that timeframe.

   Passamonte's hiring comes in the aftermath of a surreal tenure vote that took place May 28 during the board of education meeting in the high school library. At first blush, it appeared that Ken Marlborough, who was first hired in 2008, had received approval as four of the seven board members raised a hand in support of the tenure recommendation.

   Curiously, though, just as board president Bill McGrath asked for a show of hands of members opposed, vice president Richard Pluschau interjected and questioned Beran's decision.

   Beran shuffled some papers and apologized for getting his "papers mixed up," the paper reported. McGrath re-started the vote, and this time Beran opposed Marlborough's tenure. Three others joined him in opposition, and Marlborough's career at SW-R was for all practical purposes over even though he had received a recommendation from Superintendent Steven Cohen.

   And here's the kicker: The paper reported that Beran had been elected to the board just one week earlier and had no previous experience in the role. Still, he felt qualified to cast a vote that guaranteed the district's run without a tenured AD would extend beyond a decade.

   In the fine tradition of disappeared drummers in the brilliant mock-rock-documentary "This is Spinal Tap," Lynn Schwartz lasted barely a month after taking over during the summer as interim AD, and physical education teacher William Denniston has filled in since.

   I strongly suggest you take a few minutes to read the full story to get a feel for just how far off the rails the district has gone in the past decade thanks to some obvious meddling over issues like selective classification, for which probably 98 percent of all districts have an official policy but SW-R does not.

   It will help you understand why even a fiscal conservative like myself finds it difficult to begrudge experienced ADs in large school districts their low-six-figure salaries.

   Terrible news: Cody Taddonio, a 17-year-old Cold Spring Harbor senior football player and wrestler, died in his sleep last weekend.

   Susan Taddonio, said she found her son unresponsive when she attempted to wake him Sunday morning, just hours after the 195-pound, fourth-year varsity wrestler finished second in his class in a tournament in Manhasset. The cause of death has yet to be determined and the family is awaiting toxicology test results, Newsday reported.

   A memorial was held Wednesday night, with a pair of symbolic shoes placed on an otherwise empty wrestling mat. "It was very emotional," AD Michael Bongino told the

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   "Cody never looked at the rankings or got intimidated by any opponent," wrestling coach Mike Ferrugiari said. "It didn't matter to him. He'd step on the mat against monsters and go right after them. I loved his spirit and competitiveness."

   Catching up on honors: Gatorade has handed out its first two New York player of the year awards for the fall season.

   Erasmus Hall senior football player and Ohio State recruit Curtis Samuel was selected the football player of the year after rushing for 1,461 yards and 17 touchdowns on just 92 carries. He also scored two TDs on pass receptions and twice more on special teams.

   Gatorade has already selected its national football player of the year award, bestowing that honor on defensive tackle Andrew Brown of Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake, Va. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound senior has led the Tigers to a 14-0 record entering Saturday's state final. Brown has 93 tackles, 18 sacks, eight forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.

   In girls volleyball, Pittsford Sutherland outside hitter Luisa Schirmer, another Ohio State recruit, won her second straight New York player of the year award. Schirmer was named MVP of the Section 5 and state tournaments, registering 508 kills, 465 digs, 114 aces and 33 blocks. She finished her five-year career with 2,342 kills.

   "As potent an offensive weapon as she is, what many don't know is how truly gifted she is in the back row," Pittsford Mendon coach Jeff Kotalik told the Democrat and Chronicle. "Her passing and defense are what make her so deadly. You simply can't serve her – her skill, composure and coverage are just too good."

   Whoops: I've forgotten to mention this too many times already. The list of returning boys all-state basketball players can by found here on then website.

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  • 5/27: Football gets approval to add a game
  • 4/29: Officials turning focus toward the fall
  • 4/23: Boys all-state basketball (large schools)
  • 4/22: Westhill hoops star dies in crash
  • 4/16: Boys all-state basketball (small schools)
  • 4/8: LuHi girls coach Slater steps down
  • 3/24: NYSPHSAA ends winter sports season
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  • 3/18: Weekly NYC boys basketball recap
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