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Wednesday, March 23, 2016: Schenevus soccer coach Jim Huntington dies

   Leading off today: Veteran boys soccer coach Jim Huntington, who led Edmeston to the state Class D championship in 2003 and directed Schenevus to its first sectional victory in 14 seasons this past fall, died from an apparent heart attack Tuesday.

   He was 63.

   Otsego County Coroner Jim Dow said Huntington was dead on arrival at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, The Daily Star reported. He was stricken at St. Timothy's Episcopal Church.

   Huntington coached at Worcester and Cherry Valley-Springfield before arriving at Edmeston in 2001. His third season with the Panthers ended with a 1-0 overtime win vs. Chazy in the 2003 NYSPHSAA finals.

   "The first year he came there, none of us knew him, but as soon as he got through the first day of practice, it was like he'd been here four or five years," Brad Belden, who led the 2003 team with 24 goals, told the paper. "Everyone just got closer and closer. To an extent, he was like another dad to all of us."

   Said Edmeston AD Mike Clark: "Obviously he was a great soccer coach, but more importantly, he was a great person. His players really liked him and respected him. He was a quality character and a super guy."

   Huntington's Schenevus team scored a 1-0 upset of Laurens in the opening round of the 2015 Section 4 Class D tournament for its first playoff win since 2001. The Dragons finished with a 9-8 record.

   Saranac Lake's Raymond dies: John Raymond, who coached the Saranac Lake football program to a 164-60-4 record over 25 seasons, died Friday after a battle with cancer. He was 73.

   Raymond, inducted into the Saranac Lake sports Hall of Fame in 2008, guided Saranac Lake to the NYSPHSAA Class C final in 1995.

   "John was good to the star athletes, but he was even better with the average kid," Mark Farmer, a former player who became head coach in 1999, told The Press-Republican. "He had a unique way of taking average players and getting them to play better than they ever thought they would. And I really think that defined why John was so successful."

   Raymond had three stints as coach. His teams accumulated 84 wins between 1970-84 before he stepped down. When his replacement stepped down after one season, Raymond returned to win 46 more games from 1986-91. His third stint ended in 1998 with a loss in the state semifinals, and Raymond went on to become the district superintendent.

   Eric Bennett, who became head coach in 2010, played for Raymond in 1989-90.

   "He'd call you straight out if something wasn't right or you weren't giving it your best," Bennett said. "But at the same time, he'd put his arm around you and get you where you needed to be."

   Coaching departures: The loss to Elmont in the Federation boys Class A semifinals last weekend was the farewell for Telecommunication Arts & Technology coach Chris Weil.

   Weil, who coached for 25 seasons, told his team during the season that this would be his final year on the sidelines. His Yellow Jackets responded with the first PSAL championship.

   "This was the group that I least really expected to make it this far, but as the season progressed, I knew we had something special," Weil told the Brooklyn Daily.

    • Canajoharie football coach Ken Sullivan also has opted to step down after 17 seasons as the head coach and 19 with the program.

   "I had the opportunity to see my son Kenny play every game for the last three years and my youngest son A.J. is a sophomore and I saw him run one cross-country meet," Sullivan told The Leader-Herald. "It wasn't the only contributing factor, but it was a big one. I figured I would be able to watch him compete for the next couple of years and then we will go from there."

   Sullivan took over a program riding an 18-game losing streak 0-18 streak and won twice in his first season only to have the school drop varsity football the following fall due to low numbers.

   "It was a gamble, but it worked out," Sullivan said. "I knew we had good kids coming up through because they did well in the Canajoharie Youth Program and at the modified level, so I knew I had a good core of kids and, more important, I had a good core of parents."


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  •    Sullivan finished his coaching career with a 69-69 record.

       Calling all helpers, Part 1: The NYSSWA's Steve Grandin is wrapping up the first phase of compiling the 2016 boys basketball all-state team.

       As usual, he's trying to collect as many area, section, class and league all-star teams as possible from coaches, media and league officials. If you can help, please forward information to Steve at as soon as possible.

       Media members assisting us by supplying their all-area selections are reminded that the deadline is Monday, March 28. We're hoping to be able to publish the all-state team online by mid-April.

       Calling all helpers, Part 2: I sent out an email blast earlier this week to numerous reporters and advisers across the state requesting help in compiling the 2016 girls basketball all-state team. However, I'm fairly certain that I missed a few people -- including some of the 40 who were able to lend a helping hand a year ago.

       The deadline for submitting all-area teams or league all-stars for the girls selection process is April 10. You can send your material to

       Merger proposal: When a Class A-sized football program finds itself creeping towards the endangered species list, drastic measures may be in order.

       The Buffalo News reported over the weekend that Kenmore East has proposed a merger with the Charter School for Applied Technologies, which does not currently offer football, as a way to beef up its roster to the point that forfeits due to a shortage of players would no longer be a concern.

       Kenmore East hit a low point last season when the team lost 15 players during the preseason -- several due to injuries and concussion protocol -- and finished 0-8. The Bulldogs had to forfeit their opener because they couldn't field the required 16 players. "Each subsequent week for seven more weeks, it was hit-or-miss whether or not we were going to play," AD Brett Banker told the paper.

       Merged athletic teams in all sports in Section 6 have risen from 24 in 2010-11 to 181 this school year, including 18 involving football programs, the paper reported. But a public-charter merger would be a new step for Section 6 schools, sectional football chairman Ken Stoldt said.

       "It's rare around here, but that could definitely open the door," he said.

       Under the proposed deal, the Ken-Ton district would bill CSAT $100 for each player, up to the first 20 players.

       But school board members have reservations about partnering with a charter school, which competes for students and funding. Although most CSAT students are from Buffalo, 211 students who live in Ken-Ton (37 in high school) choose to attend CSAT rather than a district school.

       "I cannot in good conscience blur that line between public school and charter school," board President Jill O'Malley said. "I just really can't."

       The school board has tabled a vote on the proposed agreement until a budget work session scheduled for Tuesday.

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