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Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014: Iona Prep's Sheppard heading to Syracuse

   Leading off today: Well, this is certainly awkward.

   It appears that football standout Qaadir Sheppard has committed to continue his career at Syracuse University in the fall, but the defensive end's own school appears to have stolen his thunder by breaking the news on Twitter.

   The 6-foot-4 standout, a two-way starter for Iona Prep the past two seasons, had made no mention of a decision on his own Twitter account as of this evening, but numerous media outlets began reporting the story after seeing the school's tweet.

   Sheppard received numerous offers -- including Boston College, North Carolina, Pitt, Rutgers and Virginia -- even before making 58 catches for 842 yards and 13 TDs as a receiver and eight sacks and five fumble recoveries on defense.

   Champs crowned: In a perfect world, section-wide dual meet wrestling tournaments would be held later in the season to give them a little bit more meaning. But given the grind many teams face at the end of the season -- big duals in late January followed by league tournament, sectionals and the state qualifier in rapid succession -- it's understandable most sections schedule these meets in December.

   On Wednesday, Sections 1 and 9 crowned their champions.

   Senior Sam Honors scored a pin just 53 second into the 152-pound match to assure Putnam Valley a 42-39 win over Pearl River for the Section 1 Division II championship. It was the Tigers' first dual-meet title and came less than a year after winning their first sectional championship.

   Putnam Valley started fast and rolled to a 36-6 lead before Pearl River climbed back into contention. Honors' pin was the last contested match of the dual, with Putnam Valley forfeiting at 160 and 170 pounds, so Honors knew it was all of his shoulder.

   "I knew that I had to get at least a major (decision) -- as many bonus points as I could get," Honors told The Journal News. "(Coach Will) Carano actually came up to me and told me that this match is all on me. I actually enjoyed the pressure, rather than feared it."

   In Section 9, Minisink Valley topped Cornwall and Monroe-Woodbury for the school's first duals championship.

   A.J. Aeberli, who placed third in the Section 9 tournament last season as a Warwick student, scored a pair of victories to help pave the way. Minisink Valley coach Kevin Gallagher told The Times Herald-Record it was easy for Aeberli to fit in.

   "He's a hard worker and we're hard workers," Gallagher said. "So we just said, 'Hey, if you are going to be one of us, you are going to work like one of us and be like one of us so it's been a great fit."

   A rarity: Two-time defending NYSPHSAA Class AA girls basketball champion Ossining suffered its first home loss since Feb. 4, 2011, when it dropped a 69-63 decision to Archbishop Molloy on Wednesday.

   Impending milestone: A 1,309-1,296 victory over Clarence on Tuesday, gave Alden rifle coach Paul Borkowski his 599th victory in the sport. Borkwoski, who began coaching in 1970 and has won 34 sectional and seven team state championships, will go for No. 600 on Thursday vs. Iroquois.

   Football shuffle possible: The Trumansburg school board voted this week to merge its football program with neighboring South Seneca, the Ithaca Journal reported.

   South Seneca's board must still give approval. Trumansburg, which was unable to field a team last fall, has

  
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to inform Section 4 by Jan. 1 whether it will have a team next fall. South Seneca has fielded a combined team in Section 5 with Romulus in recent seasons, and it was unclear whether Romulus will remain part of that picture or which section a combined team including Trumansburg would play in.

   Trumansburg was slated to play in Class C last fall, but the season was called off after only 13 eligible players showed up for practice in August. A combined team South Seneca/Trumansburg program (with or without Romulus) would have a Class C enrollment for 2015.

   South Seneca/Romulus is on a 21-game losing streak.

   More football: Less than a month away from the deadline for football programs to declare whether they will stay in the Section 1 football structure or go the independent route -- which would keep them from participating in the 2015 NYSPHSAA tournament -- it's unclear how many schools might opt out.

   Seven Yonkers schools and Peekskill formed the Hudson Valley Football League for the 2014 season, but that was a move to help struggling programs rebuild. Other schools, however, have raised scheduling concerns as a reason to consider opting out.

   Kevin Devaney Jr. of MSG Varsity tweeted today that he expects four or five teams to join HVFL members in opting out by Jan. 16 based on conversations he's had with coaches and administrators. That would not be enough to form a stand-alone league but could be the start of a scheduling co-op.

   Growing the sport: The inaugural Empire State Prospect Games, a three-day baseball showcase for rising sophomores, junior and seniors will be held in Amsterdam next summer, organizers announced.

   The Aug. 14-16 tournament will have four regional teams per graduating class. Organizers, who say 70 colleges have expressed interest in sending recruiters, project adding two teams per class if the showcase returns in 2016.

   Extra points: Former White Plains teacher, administrator and boys varsity basketball coach Tom Eaton Jr. died Sunday at the age of 64.


  
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