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Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015: Depleted Kenmore East forfeiting football opener

   Leading off today: After an 0-6 start, Kenmore East won its final three football games of the 2014 football season and seemingly had something to build upon this fall for first-year coach Pat Veltri.

   That may still be true, but the new season is off to a most bumpy start. In a development that is off-the-charts unusual for a Class A football program, the Bulldogs are forfeiting their Friday opener vs. Grand Island due to a lack of eligible players, The Niagara Gazette reported Wednesday.

   Ken-Ton AD Brett Banker made the announcement after determining that preseason injuries on the field and a stomach virus that swept through the locker room left Kenmore East with just 12 of its approximately 20 players available for the opener. State rules require a minimum of 16 players.

   "It was a gut-wrenching decision," Veltri told the paper.

   Calling up JV players was not an option. Of the 35 players on that roster, only 19 are both healthy and have participated in the required number of practices.

   "This action is extreme but after several meetings with our coaching staff, the Kenmore East administration and medical team, we do not feel it is in the best interest of student safety that we compete on Friday," Banker said in a statement.

   Both Banker and Veltri apologized to Grand Island for the highly unusual opening forfeit.

   Kenmore East is scheduled to host North Tonawanda in Week 2.

   Potential milestone ahead: Maple Hill boys soccer coach Dan Gillespie goes for his 600th victory on Friday vs. Hudson, The Gazette in Schenectady noted on Twitter this week.

   Wagner update: The sheriff's office that covers Copake, Columbia County, has yet to receive a complaint from any Susan Wagner High parents alleging a crime took place during the football program's week-long training camp Aug. 19-26.

   As of Wednesday morning, the Columbia County Sheriff's office has received no reports of abuse at Camp Pontiac, Lt. Wayne Lopez, the sheriff's office public information officer, told The Advance.

   A day earlier, Wagner Principal Gary M. Giordano suspend varsity and JV activities until further notice and said the city education department's special commissioner of investigation had opened a probe.

   A matter of trust: There are any number of problems with the entire process of colleges recruiting high school athletes. One of the most frustrating in particular for reporters is the one that causes many to have to write the sentence in one or more stories per year:

   "NCAA rules prohibit coaches from commenting on recruits who have not yet signed a letter of intent."

   Usually, that boilerplate language appears in a story about an athlete who has made a verbal commitment to attend a Division I program. It's also sometimes written in a report about an athlete who has committed but now finds himself in some sort of legal or academic entanglement that might keep him from arriving on campus in the fall.

   It took a whole new twist last week, however, at Syracuse University when coveted out-of-state football recruit Robert Washington revealed he had decommitted from the Orange over what he called a lack of trust of one of the university's assistant coaches.

   According to, Washington said he asked running backs coach DeAndre Smith to stop interacting with his father, Robert Washington Sr., earlier this summer. After Smith continued to have conversations with the elder football site

Washington, the Huntersville (N.C.) South Lake Christian running back decided to open up his recruitment again.

   "I told DeAndre to stop talking to my dad, he did it anyway so I just felt like I couldn't trust him," Washington said. "Trust is a big thing for me and he lost my trust."

   He added: "If I can't trust my position coach, then we aren't going to go far in life."

   What Washington says might well be true. Or it could be a marginal excuse to re-open his recruitment since interest in him intensified even after his April announcement that he intended to play for Syracuse. The problem is, SU coaches and administrators are powerless to air their side of the story in public, so we might not know until February -- or ever, for that matter -- what really happened.

   I've seldom had much sympathy for the Syracuse football program, which has made a series of blunders too extensive to chronicle since the day Dick MacPherson packed up and left for the New England Patriots a quarter of a century ago. But if Washington has taken some liberties with his portrayal of the facts, then being unable to get their side of the story out has to be extremely frustrating for the Orange.

   One dome, four days, 10 games: The National Football Foundation's annual Kickoff Classic begins Thursday afternoon as Kingston comes north and west to take on Cicero-North Syracuse. Five NYSPHSAA sections and the CHSAA are represented in 10 games through Labor Day. Tickets are $8 at the gate.

   "We try to reach out to a lot of areas," Westhill assistant Paul Sealey, who helps organize the event, told lists the full schedule. A few of the highlights figure to be Baldwinsville vs. Victor (Thursday, 8 p.m.) and three straight games beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday: Syracuse Henninger vs. Newburgh, Canisius vs. Shenendehowa and Aquinas vs. Syracuse CBA.

   If all goes according to plan, I'll blog from the Baldwinsville-Victor game.

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