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Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015: More girls getting onto upstate football fields

   Leading off today: This ain't high school football the way I remember it.

   And there's nothing wrong with that.

   A couple of stories out of upstate New York this week made note of girls expected to be on the varsity playing field this fall.

   First-year LeRoy head coach Brian Herdlein, who was a longtime assistant there to Brian Moran, is putting kicking responsibilities in the hands of Mary Purdy. She's decided to forego soccer this year after being encouraged to try out for kicker with the Oatkan Knights, a traditional Section 5 small-school power with a ton of returning talent in 2015.

   "We're not trying to make history," Herdlein told "It was a situation where she was playing a different sport before. She didn't want to do that this year and she approached us about playing football and kicking for us. We had her come out. We had her kicking some footballs.

   The first day I show up, I see her kicking 35-yard field goals no problem. So of course, for me, I think that's a weapon, so to me I don't look at her differently than anything. She comes out, she does everything everyone else is doing on the field."

   Purdy isn't looking to be a Title IX poster child. She just wants to play.

   "I was hoping no one would draw so much attention to it," Purdy said. "I'm just happy to present my skill set wherever it's needed, but I guess it's kind of cool to be the first female to come through the area and play football."

   A hundred or so miles down I-90 to the east, Lindsey Crego is putting on the pads for East Syracuse Minoa. Formerly a flute player in the Spartans' marching band, the junior decided to try out as a lineman after a friend saw her working out in the school's weight room last fall and jokingly suggested she go for football.

   "I thought about it for awhile, and said, 'Yeah,'" Crego told

   Crego, who throws the shot and discus for the track team, completed all of the offseason workouts and conditioning drills and has set the school's weight-room record for girls dead lift.

   "I know the guys aren't going to take it easy just because I am a girl," Crego said. "I know they're going to treat me the same. But I know they're going to treat me fairly."

   By the way, reports there are two girls on the Jordan-Elbridge team this season.

   Starting over: Veteran Section 6 coach Tom Goddard is the new coach at Groton, a program rocked by scandal and controversy in 2014 by a September hazing incident involving members of the football team. It resulted in a forfeited game, guilty pleas from two players charged with harassment in the incident, the departure of the superintendent and the school board's decision to dismiss two coaches.

   Goddard coached Clarence to two Section 6 championships in 25 years before retiring four years ago. A day after Goddard was appointed in May, he met with about 30 prospective players to address the events of last season, something he says he doesn't plan on doing again.

   "I told them, 'I had no involvement with last year, and to me, that page has been turned over. We're on a new page,'" Goddard told The Ithaca Journal. "None of us can change what happened 10 seconds ago. Whether it's bad or good, it's done. And I don't bring it (last year) up anymore."

   Being social: Hudson Valley Sports Report is hosting a social media forum next week at Arlington High.

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   The plan is to discuss the power and responsibility of the medium. HVSR touts it as a "very raw, honest, candid -- but enlightening and revealing -- talk for players, coaches and parents on the give-and-take nature of social media."

   More information on the free session can be found here.

   Still growing: The number of girls participating in high school sports has increased for the 26th consecutive year, the National Federation of State High School Associations reported last week.

   Overall participation by boys and girls combined also rose for the 26th straight school year, data compiled during the 2014-15 school year showed. The combined figure was 7,807,047, with the boys total of 4,519,312 down slightly from the previous year.

   Girls sports have grown from 1,839,352 in 1988-89 to 3,287,735 last school year.

   Six of the top 10 girls sports registered increases in participation, led by competitive spirit squads (5,170 additional participants) and cross country (3,495). Track and field remains the No. 1 sport for girls with 478,726 participants, but volleyball (432,176) moved ahead of basketball (429,504) for the No. 2 spot.

   Among boys sports, soccer registered the largest gain with an additional 15,150 participants, while wrestling and 11-man football had the largest declines. Eleven-man football remains the runaway leader in boys participants with 1,083,617.

   "Despite other out-of-school opportunities that exist in some sports, this year's survey is yet another confirmation that our model of education-based sports within the high school setting is the No. 1 choice for boys and girls nationwide," Bob Gardner, NFHS executive director, said in a statement. "We applaud the more than 19,000 high schools across the country for continuing to provide these important programs despite the funding challenges that exist in some areas."

   The top 10 states by participants remained unchanged, led by Texas (804,598), California (797,101) and New York (389,475).

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