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Friday, Nov. 28, 2014: Will this be the year?

   Leading off today: For as long as there's been a NYSPHSAA tournament in football, it's been a given that the tournament's champions were assured of no less than a share of No. 1 in the final New York State Sportswriters Association rankings.

   That might not be the case this year.

   A little explanation: The rationale for keeping New York State Public High School Athletic Association champs at No. 1 has been the fact that the organization they play in is far and away the largest in the state. On top of that, winning at the Carrier Dome on Thanksgiving weekend means a team has won its own sectional tournament and beaten at least two (and usually three) other sectional champions. For good measure, there is also sometimes a quality regular-season win on the resume.

   When champions of other tournaments -- such as Long Island's bowls, the CHSFL or the PSAL -- have been elevated to a share of No. 1, it's been in recognition of their overall body of work for the season. Though their playoffs typically involve beating a couple of teams they had already defeated during the regular season, sometimes it becomes apparent that those teams would likely have fared quite well had they had to play a series of sectional champions down the homestretch.

   This year, the possibility of outright ownership of No. 1 in Class AA rather than sharing is very realistic for Canisius, which has a Monsignor Martin Association title game Saturday vs. Bishop Timon/St. Jude in Buffalo. A win there advances the season-long NYSSWA No. 1 team to the inaugural CHSAA championship game Dec. 7 vs. Archbishop Stepinac, which sites at No. 2.

   As NYSSWA editor Neil Kerr, who has been doing our football rankings for more than four decades, points out, that gives the winner of Saturday's NYSPHSAA final between No. 3 Jamestown and No. 5 Newburgh a limited-at-best path to a share of No. 1 because:

    •Canisius defeated Jamestown 27-14 on Sept. 26 in Jamestown.

    •Fourth-ranked Iona Prep -- which lost twice to Stepinac -- defeated Newburgh 27-14 on Sept. 6 in Newburgh.

   If the CHSAA champion turns out to be Canisius or Stepinac, they'll obviously have a head-to-head results advantage that would seem to be insurmountable for the NYSPHSAA champion.

   Perfect career on the line: The Press & Sun-Bulletin asked Maine-Endwell senior Adam Gallagher the last time he lost a football game.

   The answer: a 19-8 playoff loss to Owego that ruined a perfect season ... six years ago. "We'd beaten them earlier in the year, too," Gallagher told the paper.

Since that setback in peewee ball, Gallagher has known nothing put success each week on the field: Unbeaten in modified ball as a seventh-grader and on the JVs as an eighth-grader, followed by seasons of 12-0, 13-0, 13-0 and 12-0 thus far.

   Heading into Sunday's NYSPHSAA Class B final vs. Schalmont, he's 50-0 as a varsity starter. He's started on both sides of the ball since his sophomore season.

   "From the beginning, our goal is to win. Us here at Maine-Endwell, not only the football team but the teachers and administrators and everybody, we have high standards for everything we do," Gallagher said. "Along with us wanting it, the people in our school also want us to succeed, and I think that makes us push a little harder."

   Research: Mike Connell did some poking around to help put Gallagher's success at Maine-Endwell in perspective. As far as he could come up with, former Hornell standout Zack Bacon is the only other New York gridder to have won


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  • his first 50 starts on the varsity football field. Bacon was 51-0 before Hornell lost to Hoosick Falls in the state Class C finals in 2012 in his final scholastic game.

       While Connell doesn't serve as an official editor of any sports covered by the NYSSWA, he's a source of knowledge for several of them -- especially football. His pet project,, is a treasure chest of information pertaining to stuff not limited to the Southern Tier.

       Maybe the best page on the site is his color-coded chart chronicling the results of every team's participation in the NYSPHSAA football tournament over the years. He added another feature to the page this month.

       "I've added 5 red-headered columns to the front showing how many times each team has appeared in each round, plus their overall record in the state playoffs since the tourney's inception," he wrote this week. "I figure it could be useful information for media reporters, and all in general. To be honest, it's the page on my site I am most happy with."

       Calling all helpers: We have begun our work on the 2014 New York State Sportswriters Association all-state football teams, and this is our annual plea for assistance.

       While most all-area teams have not been published yet, we are asking reporters to send in their selections (we will not publish your picks, just use them in the selection of our teams) by Sunday Dec. 15. Since those teams tend to be dominated by players (usually from the skill positions) from large-school teams, getting lists of top players from the five classes, including linemen, would also help speed up our process.

       Similarly, it would be helpful if the respective chairmen could send copies of their all-league teams.

    In recent years, we had strong representation from all parts of the state, which made the process much smoother.

       All material should be emailed to Steve Grandin at Printed information can be mailed to: Steve Grandin, 28 Orenda Spring Drive, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.

       The all-state teams, a production the NYSSWA has undertaken for more than four decades, will be announced in early January.

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