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Tuesday, March 8, 2016: Will this renew push for a sixth football class?

   Leading off today: We're not quite through with basketball season yet, but some folks in Section 3 are already talking about football -- and with good reason.

   Last week, Syracuse.com reported on concerns and frustrations expressed by Central Square AD Jim Drancsak over enrollment disparity. His school is much closer in enrollment to Class A schools such as Oswego and Fulton, but the Central Square football team was once again assigned to Class AA alongside the likes of much larger schools such as Cicero-North Syracuse, Utica Proctor and Liverpool when the BEDS numbers for the 2016-17 school year were released.

   With the top six schools in Section 3 Class AA averaging 672 more students per school than the Red Hawks will have next fall and Central Square suffering heavy graduation losses from a team that went 2-7 in 2015 (only seven seniors are projected for the 2016 roster), Central Square has asked to drop down to Class A. Doing so will cost it the opportunity to qualify for sectionals or place players on an all-league team.

   "No matter what way you slice it, it is a competitive disadvantage to play schools who have 700-1,000 more students than their opponent," coach Matt DiCarlo said. "Football is a collision sport and we ask schools at the largest level to have the widest gap in enrollment of schools who compete against one another.

   "Essentially the gap in schools at the 'AA' level in football is wider than the gap between Central Square and most D schools."

   Or, as Auburn coach Dave Moscov noted, Cicero-North Syracuse could be split into two schools and both would still be Class AA programs and larger than Central Square or Auburn.

   And the problem is getting worse. Though C-NS, Proctor and Liverpool are among the many New York districts that have been shrinking over the years, none is dropping enrollment as dramatically as Central Square this decade. Meanwhile, other large schools have been growing in recent years or staying close to flat.

Changes in enrollment since 2010 season
School 2010 2013 2016 +/-
Cicero-N. Syracuse 2316 2144 2111 -205
Utica Proctor 2070 2081 1947 -123
Liverpool 1812 1712 1689 -123
Syracuse Henninger 1325 1337 1519 +194
Baldwinsville 1458 1380 1413 -45
Syracuse Corcoran 1146 1086 1230 +84
West Genesee 1251 1242 1218 -33
Rome Free Academy 1288 1167 1099 -189
Fayetteville-Manlius1209 1174 1061 -148
Central Square 1203 1017 979 -224
   Drancsak wants the NYSPHSAA to revisit a proposal presented last year to create a sixth class in football. The plan would have pushed about 50 schools from the nine sections playing in the state tournament with BEDS figures of 1,100 or more into a new Class AAA.

   An Auburn proposal to split Section 3's Class AA into two divisions based upon enrollment was defeated.

   "People can debate it forever," Drancsak said, "but football is a little different than other sports."

    • Watertown Immaculate Heart will drop down to Class D in football this fall after six seasons in Class C. Coach Paul Alteri said he and AD Mike Delaney petitioned for the move after the 2015 season and it was approved for a two-year period. The motion was originally rejected by the Section 3 Classification Committee, Syracuse.com reported, but the school was granted a request for a second vote.

   After a 26-9 mark over its first four seasons in Class C, Watertown IHC was 6-10 in 2014-15 and did not qualify for sectionals.

   Speaking of classifications: Section 3 may be in for some interesting discussions when its classification committee convenes next month. Five of the six boys basketball finalists in the three largest classes are private or charter schools.

   Syracuse CBA has captured two consecutive Class A championships and will likely go up to Class AA, Syracuse.com.

   The Section 3 Competition Committee meets April 14 to consider recommendations from each of the winter sports committees.

   As an aside, Section 5 likely faces a fresh round of discussions along the same lines. Four of its nine boys basketball champions were privates schools.

   A trend? A fluke? The weekend's high school championship developments reminded me of something I noted over the holidays: The potential power of sheer numbers.

   It was back in December that I pointed out that Sachem had combined its East and North high school bowling teams into one squad. On Saturday, the boys team won a NYSPHSAA championship by a comfortable 245 pins over Lansingburgh, 616 over Webster Thomas and 776 over Frontier.

  

  • 2016 NYSPHSAA boys basketball brackets
  • 2016 NYSPHSAA girls basketball brackets
  • 2016 NYSPHSAA boys hockey brackets
  • 2016 N.Y. complete wrestling brackets (PDF)
  • 2016 N.Y. boys swim championships
  • N.Y. indoor track championships: Boys | Girls


  •    Sachem's BEDS figure for the two schools is 3,495. The combined figure for Lansingburgh, Webster Thomas and Frontier is 2,672.

       Similarly, the Half Hollow Hills school district fielded (pooled?) a combined team for its two high schools at the boys swimming championships in Buffalo and came away as the highest scoring NYSPHSAA squad. HHH's enrollment of 2,449 is just 20 less than the combined total of the second- and third-place schools, Shaker and Ithaca.

       And you might recall last month's NYSPHSAA alpine ski championships, where the combined Rondout Valley, Kingston, Hyde Park Roosevelt and Coleman Catholic team added up to an enrollment greater than the next five teams combined.

       That's three instances of championships being won by combined squads in the winter season alone. I can think of only four such situations in the previous three schools years combined: Pittsford boys swimming in 2012 and '13, Pittsford girls swimming in 2014 and Jamesville-DeWitt/CBA boys hockey in 2013.

       This weekend, Pittsford's two high schools are in the boys Division I hockey semifinals as a single entity.

       It's too soon to raise a fuss over the what's happening -- it may be more an anomaly than a trend. But it does bear watching as a potential issue.

       A little bit of perfect: Bergen Catholic senior Nick Suriano on Sunday became the fourth wrestler in New Jersey history to win four state championships, and the second to do it undefeated for his career.

       Suriano, a Penn State recruit, finished his career with a 159-0 record and state titles at 106, 113, 120 and 126 pounds. He surrendered one takedown in his four varsity seasons.

       ... and not so perfect: The Georgia High School Association has admitted that all 14 of its recent championship games were played on a court that was set up incorrectly, likely contributing to poor shooting throughout the event.

       The Marietta Daily Journal reported that the stanchions supporting the baskets at the Macon Centerplex were placed roughly a foot farther back from regulation, leaving the backboards almost directly over the baseline.

       Ernie Yarbrough, the GHSA's coordinator of basketball, told the paper that officials were informed Saturday afternoon of the discrepancy but opted against fixing it because the tournament was already running behind schedule.

       GHSA officials said that the games were still fair.

       "The goals were the same distance into the court at both ends of the floor," GHSA Executive Director Gary Phillips said. "The playing conditions were exactly the same for both teams on the court and for all of the 14 championship games that were played. So I can't see any reason we would consider changing the outcomes."

       According to the paper, the 28 teams shot just 59 percent from the free-throw line and 20 percent on 3-pointers.

       Alkins' decision: Rawle Alkins, the former Christ the King star who transferred to a North Carolina prep school last summer after running out of eligibility in the CHSAA, said Monday he will play for the University of Arizona next season.

       Alkins, selected first-team all-state by the New York State Sportswriters Association last season, selected the Wildcats over North Carolina, North Carolina State, St. John's and UNLV. While Arizona wasn't regarded to be in the mix until recently, assistant coach Book Richardson had been recruiting Alkins since his freshman season of high school ball.


      
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