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Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015: F-M will get chance to defend its NXN crowns

   Leading off today: Fayetteville-Manlius qualified both its varsity teams for the Nike Cross Nationals championships for the eighth straight year with a pair of top-two finishes Saturday.

   In the boys regional at Bowdoin Park, Liverpool scored 77 points to defeat F-M (107) as the Warriors' Ben Petrella took individual honors in 15:31.4. F-M raced without Peter Ryan, its lead runner throughout the season.

   In the girls race, F-M (38) and Saratoga (80) qualified in convincing fashion, making it nine straight years that both have advanced to the national meet. The finals are next Saturday in Portland, Ore., with Fayetteville-Manlius seeking to defend team titles in both races.

   Kaitlyn Neal (17:37.8) of F-M and Kelsey Chmiel (17:50.5) of Saratoga were the top two individual finishers in Saturday's girls qualifiers. F-M's win was all the more impressive because Claire Walters, the NYSPHSAA state Class A champion, did not figure in the scoring with a 26th-place showing overall.

   Four boys and four girls teams from across the nation were awarded at-large berths later Saturday. North Rockland's girls was awarded the state's only at-large bid after finishing their race third with 117 points. Sachem East (146) and East Aurora (164) finished fourth and fifth, respectively and held out slim hopes for selection before he announcement came down.

   East Aurora had hoped to remain in the hunt among boys teams by virtue of its regional third-place finish with 109 points but was passed over by the selection committee.

   Individually, five boys and girls were selected to make the trip to Portland once the at-large team berths were settled. Barring scratches, those selections are:

   Boys -- Aidan Tooker (Saratoga), Kenny Vasbinder (East Aurora), Dan Schaffer (Maine-Endwell), Don Glavin (McQuaid) and Noah Carey (Guilderland).

   Girls -- Abbey Wheeler (Elmira), Diana Vizza (North Shore), Mary Henelly (Suffern), Katelyn Tuohy (North Rockland) and Lauren Chapey (Mamaroneck).

   More cross country: Carthage's Noah Affolder won the Foot Locker Northeast qualifier in 15:23.9 to earn a berth in the national finals Dec. 12 in San Diego.

   Jake Brophy of New Hope, Penn., was second in 15:27.2 at Van Cortlandt Park. Conor Lundy of Fordham Prep placed third in 15:27.7 to give New York two representatives in the national finals.

   Three New York girls are also bound for San Diego. Madeleine Davison of Wexford, Penn., won in 17:39.1, but Jessica Lawson of Corning was second in 17:41.5, Sage Hurta of Hamilton placed ninth and Kathryn Munks of Monroe-Woodbury secured the 10th and final spot.

   Stepinac caps perfect season: Archbishop Stepinac senior Tyquell Fields threw four touchdown passes as the Crusaders defeated St. Francis 42-28 in the second annual state CHSAA football championship game.

   Fields finished 14 of 26 with two interceptions. Senior T.J. Morrison caught nine passes for 200 yards and four TDs, including one on a halfback pass from Antonio Giannico. His first scoring reception with 1:49 left in the first quarter helped stake Stepinac to a 28-0 lead.

   Stepinac forced six turnovers, including a fumble at the St. Francis 2 that set up Giannico's scoring throw to Morrison for a four-score lead. From there, though, rallied furiously and closed to 35-28 on Garth Pinnock's 90-yard kickoff return and Brandon Met's interception return on the opening play of the fourth quarter.


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  •    PSAL semifinals: Grand Street Campus will play Erasmus Hall in an all-Brooklyn battle for the PSAL football champ-ionship next Sunday at Yankee Stadium.    Grand Street advanced to the title game by defeating Curtis 28-22 as Sharif Harris Legree threw three touchdown passes. Justin Philip scored on a 2-yard run with 8:48 remaining to close out the scoring as Grand Street overcame three turnovers.

       Curtis drove to the Grand Street 25 in the closing moments before the Wolves closed them out.

       "We're good to do anything," Philip told MSG Varsity. "That's the way our team is built. Defense and offense. We can get the big stops. When it comes down to it, we can get the job done."

       Erasmus Hall clinched its fourth trip to the final in five years by beating Fort Hamilton 48-8. Senior quarterback Aaron Grant (6 of 10 for 79 yards to go with 107 rushing yards) ran for Two TDs and threw for two more.

       Grand Street beat Erasmus Hall 40-12 in the regular-season meeting on Oct. 24.

       Closing in on history: Last Tuesday's 89-51 win vs. Martin Van Buren was No. 722 for 35th-year Cardozo coach Ron Naclerio, tying him for the all-time PSAL lead.

       He'll be going for sole possession of the record Tuesday in a home game against Francis Lewis. Chuck Granby won 722 games in 45 seasons at Andrew Jackson and Campus Magnet before retiring in 2014.

       "I think for anybody to do what I might be able to do is incredible," Naclerio told The Daily News. "The PSAL started in 1903. To see all the people that passed through the PSAL -- Red Auerbach, for example -- I just say, 'Oh, my God.'"

       A documentary chronicling Naclerio's career and is in production and scheduled for release in early 2016.

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