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Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014: Whitehall school board fires football coach

   Leading off today: The Whitehall Board of Education fired varsity football coach Justin Culligan during its regularly scheduled meeting, the Whitehall Times reported on its Facebook page Monday.

   The unanimous decision followed a two-hour executive session in which the board discussed incidents at Saturday's game against Rensselaer, which was halted in the third quarter in the aftermath of a brawl, trash-talking by both teams and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. State Police were called to maintain order and assist the Rensselaer team in leaving the Whitehall campus.

   The Post-Star reported Superintendent Elizabeth Legault had no comment following the decision but a school official said she would release a statement Tuesday.

   The Times Union reported Culligan, 19-14 in four seasons following Saturday's win, had his reappointment before the current season held up in July. Former coach John Millett had sought to coach the team at the time.

   On Sunday, the Sunday 2 football committee upheld the 28-6 final score ahead of seeding teams for the postseason, determining the game was ended by the on-field officials rather than forfeited by Whitehall AD Keith Redmond.

   "It's a black eye for football, unfortunately," first-year sectional football chairman Bob Dorrance said. "I have made contact with both athletic directors and we're looking into getting video of the brawl. But it needs to be addressed at a higher level than the football committee. The accusations are serious enough to warrant careful consideration, so that's up to the schools."

   Class D teams will play non-playoff Class C teams in crossover games this weekend, before the top four teams meet in semifinals on Nov. 1; Whitehall faces Canajoharie and Cambridge plays Rensselaer in the semifinals. There was no immediate announcement as to who would coach Whitehall Saturday vs. Holy Trinity at Catholic Central.

   Week 8 schedule: With this weekend marking the start of sectional football playoffs in a number of New York outposts, Steve Grandin has rounded up first-round pairings from around the state.

   View the updated Week 8 schedule here.

   It's called efficiency: When Chenango Forks defeated Whitney Point 48-6 in football over the weekend, the final stats showed the Forks offense only snapped the ball 19 times for the entire game -- 17 carries for 194 yards and two passes (both completions) for 45 yards.

   As Mike Connell of points out, Forks has had drives consisting of more plays than that in recent years.

   How does something like that happen? In the first quarter alone, L.J. Watson returned an interception for a TD and Cody Lamond brought back punts 68 and 27 yards for scores.

   An ongoing concern: The story was written by The Journal News regarding Section 1 soccer and football, but it really applies to numerous sports in just about every part of the state these days: There are not enough referees available to handle the schedule of games. football site

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   "It's pretty much the same old story," said Rich Leaf, president of the Westchester-Putnam Approved Soccer Officials Association, consisting of about 165 approved officials. "In the fall it's very difficult because, not only are people being asked to do public schools, but there's private, there's Catholic, there's college. A lot of people's schedules don't allow them to have a lot of availability during the week."

   The paper reported JV and modified games typically are now assigned just one referee -- but there have been cases in which none have been present.

   "My JV has had 10 games, and three times they've had no officials," Lakeland varsity soccer coach Tim Hourahan told the paper. "I show up at the game and I'm getting questions from parents about why there are no officials, and I don't have the answer. My JV coach is in the middle of the field officiating instead of coaching his team. Shoot, I even reffed one game."

   Some additional perspective: When a storm swept through upstate on a Friday night in September, numerous Section 5 games had to be suspended. With a slate of high school (include some JVs) and college games already scheduled for Saturday, there were not enough officials to go around. As a result several of the games had to be resumed Sunday.

   Following up: No. 10 Elmira Notre Dame defeated Lansing, the state's top-ranked Class C boys soccer team, by a 3-2 score on Saturday night.

   Aidan Sharma, Alec Cutler and Ryan Lanning scored goals in the Interscholastic Athletic Conference large-school final. The Bobcats had defeated Notre Dame in the conference final the previous three years and came into the contest having allowed only one goal all season.

   Notre Dame (15-0-1) has scored 99 goals in 16 games.

   Unfortunately, our new boys soccer rankings for the week does not reflect that result. As happens from time to time, some of the data was compiled before a full set of results from the state was available.

   The weeks soccer rankings for the boys and the girls have been posted.

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