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