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Friday, Sept. 11, 2015: Skaneateles' Callahan throws for five TDs

   Leading off today: Devin Callahan threw four of his five touchdown passes to running back Tommy Hagen to carry Skaneateles to a 38-35 football victory over Marcellus on Thursday.

   Hagen also kicked a 27-yard field goal just before the half.

   After spotting Marcellus a 7-0 lead, Callahan directed three straight touchdown drives, two ending with throws to Hagen and one to Cross Bianchi.

   Into the record books: Rachel Curtis scored her 78th career goal, breaking a school record for C.G. Finney, in a 1-0 girls soccer victory over Lima Christian.

   Impending milestone: Ravena hosts Hudson Falls in a football game tonight that presents Indians coach and state football chairman Gary VanDerzee with an opportunity to notch career victory No. 200, which would make him just the fourth Section 2 coach to reach that plateau.

   VanDerzee has guided Ravena to four sectional titles and a trip to the 1996 state finals. His Indians went 47-49-4 from 1983-93 but they are 152-56 since.

   As reported by The Times Union, VanDerzee nearly gave up the job before the 2007 season when he decided to retire from teaching. Assistant coach Bob Dorrance, who stood to inherit the top job, helped talk his boss into staying.

   "He still wanted to coach. Gary was stepping aside for the wrong reasons," Dorrance said.

   Dorrance believes VanDerzee still has plenty left before hanging up the whistle.

   "We have laughs on the practice field and laughs in the meeting room. Gary still enjoys it and can reach high school athletes, so there is no reason to change," Dorrance said.

   Corcoran coach to miss season: Jim Marsh, whose Syracuse Corcoran girls basketball teams have won eight Section 3 and two NYSPHSAA championships, will not be on the bench this winter for the first time in 32 seasons.

   Marsh, 54, is being treated in New York City and Syracuse for Stage 4 liver cancer, reported Thursday. Already, plans are in the works for a benefit to help defray costs for Marsh and his family. A 32-team girls tournament -- "Marsh Madness" -- is being planned for Nov. 7 by area coaches and Corcoran officials. Also, a former player started a GoFundMe site that had raised more than $6,100 by mid-day Friday.

   Marsh was diagnosed in June after suffering abdominal pains. Initial tests revealed colon cancer, and a CAT scan showed more cancer in his liver. Doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan operated last month, removing nearly half of Marsh's intestine and inserting a device that pumps chemotherapy drugs directly into his liver. If all goes according to plan, the treatments will limit the cancer spots in his liver to an extent that would allow doctors to remove part of the organ but leave him with a functioning liver, he said.

   Marsh, who has won 493 games, only discussed his illness once word started getting around and plans for the tournament started to emerge. He wasn't in school this week to start another year as a health education teacher but met with players to let them know he would be taking a year off from coaching.

   "I'm a pretty average, ordinary guy that's been fortunate enough to coach some pretty special kids and stick around football site

for a period of time -- and I'm sick," he said. "That's the story."

   In truth, that's not nearly the whole story.

   I've only seen Marsh's teams play a handful of times in my 30-plus years in the business. Two of those games explain why he's one of the best coaches in New York -- for any sport.

   In March 1998, he took two legitimate Division I players and a band of girls that could charitably be called "role players" to the state Federation championship game against eight-time defending champion Christ the King. Those Royals had state player of the year Sue Bird and five other Division I recruits -- yes, even the first girl off the bench had a full ride to college -- and Corcoran pushed them to the limit and down to the final ticks of the clock. Christ the King won 70-62, but Marsh got his girls to play the Royals as tough as any school in the state had in years.

   More recently, I dropped in at Corcoran in February 2012 to do a quick interview with Breanna Stewart, who was winding down her spectacular career for Cicero-North Syracuse. The game was already decided by the time I walked into the gym at halftime, but that would have been true whether I'd arrived for the opening tip or with 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

   C-NS had Stewart, the consensus national player of the year and Gatorade's female athlete of the year, and a complementary crew that would bring home a Federation championship of its own. Corcoran had a smallish, inexperienced team that had zero chance of winning. Every person in the gym understood as much.

   And, yet, there was Marsh coaching his tail off every step of the way. He was calling out plays, making situational substitutions and talking to his players on the bench, explaining the small points that might make them better as juniors and seniors down the road. He'd have none of this "you've got no chance tonight" business.

   And afterwards he took the time to provide me valuable insight into Stewart wrapped inside great quotes -- in the business, we call that "breaking out the 'A' material" -- even though I literally hadn't spoken with him in almost 14 years.

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