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Thursday, March 27, 2014: Is Canton-Potsdam the next school merger?

   Leading off today: Schools teaming up to field squads has been a recurring topic in high school sports story in recent months.

   Last week, The Daily Times in Watertown took a look at combined teams in the North Country and found that the number of mergers has gone up as the student population has gone down over recent years.

   "Given the current state of the economy -- and there's not an influx of people moving to Northern New York -- I think you'll see not only more merger agreements, but combined athletic programs where rather than requesting on a sport-by-sport basis, you'll see combined athletic programs," said Carl Normandin, who is Section 10's coordinator.

   There have been 40 merged teams among the 23 schools in Section 10 this school year. Many of them one-offs in which two or three schools get together in a single sport.

   "People get together, the districts, the administration, the boards, the vested interest groups and parents and kids, and you make decisions on how you want it to run," Sandy Creek AD Michael Stevens said. "One of the nice things about combining is there is no set standard; you can do different things to make it work."

   Increasingly, though, the conversation between ADs and school boards turns to consolidating entire sports programs -- or the districts themselves. According to the paper, a proposal to merge the Canton and Potsdam school districts is already out there.

   Helping hand: For a good many years my respect for West Genesee boys lacrosse has gone beyond wins and losses. Those who know anything about the program understand that coach Mike Messere and his staff have always put a premium on dedication and discipline on and off the field, realizing that athletic success will take care of itself once those attributes are in place.

   Another characteristic that's impressed me is the loyalty of players to their alma mater. The bigger the game, the more past players you'll see in attendance, but there's almost always a representative group at home games.

   That support also extends to helping their own, and a recent fundraising effort is evidence of that.

   West Genny modified lacrosse coach Joe Adams suffered a seizure in January and was diagnosed with brain cancer. On March 10, he began a six-week treatment program in Boston, which obviously saddles his family with expenses for travel, food and lodging.

   Friends set up a page for the family last month on GiveForward.com with a goal of raising $10,000 in donations. When I checked its status this morning, more than $43,000 had been donated.

   That's simply amazing.

   On Saturday, West Genesee travels to Penfield, where the Patriots have dedicated their home opener to Adams.

   Random thoughts: (1) According to research by MaxPreps.com, the New York high school with the most players in the NCAA men's basketball tournament hasn't been in operation for nearly three years.

   See for yourself.

   (2) I've been talking to a few observers recently about a Rochester-area situation in which it appears that a private school has scooped up a pretty good two-sport athlete from a charter school in a transfer that would not make much sense on geographic or academic grounds and just barely makes sense athletically (which should be the least

  
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important factor of all in a world that isn't as screwed up as this one).

   The reaction has been mostly one of apathy, though one guy did trot out a version of one of my own favorite lines as he contemplated the private/charter dynamic: It's like trying to figure out who to root for in the Iran-Iraq war.

   (3) It wasn't long ago that basketball players never so much as shook hands with referees during pre-game introductions (or looked them in the eyes, for that matter). So how exactly did that fist-bumping crap start happening? The next ref I find who says he's comfortable with this increasingly popular ritual would be the first.

   (4) What's the only road in New York more in need of a repaving than Route 67 East? Probably Route 67 West. That shortcut between Amsterdam and The Northway that many of us use for basketball weekend in Glens Falls has become horrendous the past two or three years.

   Last call: The NYSSWA's Steve Grandin is in the latter stages of assembling the 2014 edition of the boys all-state basketball team and putting out a final call to media members and league chairmen to participate.

   Please forward your all-area team, as well as any all-section, all-class or all-league teams to Steve, who is also seeking specific information (height, grade in school, statistics, honors) for leading players in each of the five state classes.

   Reporters are asked to nominate players by class, also ranking players within the class. As has been the case recently, we will not be choosing players by position since roles are often so fluid on the basketball court.

   Please forward info to Steve via email no later than this Sunday; if your all-area team has not been published yet, the NYSSWA will keep the picks confidential prior to publication.

   Extra points: Roger Taylor, whose shot put mark is the longest-standing track and field record in Section 5, died Feb. 25 at the age of 64. Taylor, a football and track star at Canandaigua who went on Syracuse University, unfurled a throw of 64 feet, 5.75 inches during the 1967 outdoor season.


  
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