Leading off today:
In a long-overdue move, seven Yonkers schools have dropped out of the Section 1 football league alignment and will form their own division along with Peekskill for the upcoming season.
The formation of the Hudson River Football League, allows the Yonkers programs, decimated by the district's financial problems and low player turnout at some schools, to begin a rebuilding process. Gorton, Lincoln, Saunders, Early College, Yonkers, Palisade Prep, Riverside will not be eligible for the Section 1 playoffs, though the top four teams will advance to an all-Yonkers postseason tournament, The Journal News reported last week. Yonkers Montessori, a Class C school, will still compete in Section 1.
"Yonkers is one of the biggest cities in the state and we have an opportunity to have our own league," Gorton coach Dan DeMatteo told the paper. "The Yonkers rivalries are pretty intense and special. Because of the way the schools are set up, there are people in the same apartment building that could play each other."
The seven Yonkers schools making the move were a combined 7-50 last season, and Lincoln's victory against Hendrick Hudson (3-6) was the groups only triumph against teams outside Yonkers.
Yonkers district AD Jim Rose, contacted Peekskill, his former school, to create an even number of teams for scheduling purposes.
"We've had trouble finishing the season the last couple of years," Peekskill AD Lou Panzanaro said. "We don't get enough kids to build any cushion for injuries or ineligibility. ... It made sense for us."
The creation of the HRFL contributes to the reshaping of Class A in Section 1, which will go from 28 teams a year ago to 18 this fall. Several teams that fattened up on Yonkers opponents in recent seasons will suddenly find one or two tough games added to their schedules.
"To get in the playoffs, you're going to be battle tested," Nyack coach Mike Ramponi told the paper. "I know in past years there was a lot of question marks about who deserved to make the playoffs and who didn't. I don't think there will be any doubt this year."
Following up: Cheerleading won approval as a competitive sport in New York on Tuesday in a 17-0 vote by the Board of Regents. A day earlier, a regents sub-committee approved the recommendation to make cheerleading an official sport and sent the measure to the full body.
NYSPHSAA officials said they would turn the transition over to their cheerleading committee to develop a strategy for implementation. Competitive cheerleading teams will be subject to safety standards applied to other high school sports. Those rules include coaching certification, mandatory rest days between competitions and limits on the duration of the season.
School reacts: Six Buffalo police officers, including a high school football coach, have been placed on paid administrative leave during an internal investigation into the alleged April 19 beating of a suspect, The Buffalo News reported.
The incident began with an attempted traffic stop that was followed by suspect John T. Willet reportedly ditching the car and fleeing on foot. Police who apprehended Willet said they found heroin, crack cocaine and marijuana on him and subsequently charged him with intent to sell. Before he was booked, Willet was handcuffed and, from the appearance of video captured on a camera phone, was beaten by one police officer while others stood by, The Buffalo News reported.
The Buffalo Police Department's Internal Affairs Division investigation began Friday after the commissioner and the mayor were emailed copies of the video, the paper reported. One of the officers placed on leave was Dennis Gilbert, varsity football coach at St. Joe's, with the paper reporting later Tuesday that he is likely to be one of at least three officers cleared based upon video evidence.
In a statement to the paper, school President Robert T. Scott said administrators were aware of the situation.
"While St. Joe's does not have any information to conclude that Mr. Gilbert acted inappropriately, we are monitoring this situation and will defer any action until the investigation is complete," the statement said.
Gilbert, a 1984 St. Joe's graduate who was inducted into the school's hall of fame in 2002, is 29-15 in four seasons as the coach there.
Regrettable re-tweet: An Albany High modified softball coach and substitute teacher was fired Tuesday after posting a derogatory racial comment on social media, The Times Union reported.
First-year coach Zoe Naylor, 24, admitted to retweeting a post on her Twitter account that contained a version of the N-word, district spokesman Ron Lesko said.
"We won't tolerate the use of that word in any form," said Lesko, adding he was not aware of another instance in which a social-media post led to a staff member's dismissal.