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Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016: Section 4 moves Harpursville/Afton back to Class D

   Leading off today: With the season's opening kickoff little more than 48 hours away, the Harpursville/Afton football team was moved back to Class D on Wednesday by Section 4, which also announced adjustments to a number of team schedules for Weeks 2-8.

   The last-minute changes came following a New York State Sportswriters Association inquiry into why Harpursville/Afton had been placed into Class C when the combined team's BEDS number indicated it should be playing in Class D -- and where the Hornets were originally assigned -- this fall.

   The Hornets will still face Watkins Glen in their opener, but the rest of the schedule was recast. David Garbarino, the sectional football coordinator explained the circumstances in an email to administrators at the affected schools:

   "On June 23, 2016, I was alerted that we configured the numbers wrong for the Harpursville/Afton football team. The football committee met on July 22, 2016, to move Harpursville/Afton to a 'C' classification and changed the schedule to reflect that as best we could.

   On August 30, 2016, I was alerted that the information that we were given about how to configure the classification was incorrect.

   The source of the confusion appears to have stemmed from the way Section 4 officials interpreted the combined teams rule adopted by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association in January 2013. Under the rule, Harpursville's full BEDS figure of 209 should have been added to 20 percent of Afton's 114 figure. Instead, Section 4 officials used 30 percent of Afton's number, putting the combined total just over the cutoff between Classes C and D. The formula is spelled out on the NYSPHSAA website.

   The need to use the formula came into play for Harpursville/Afton when the schools combined some teams in 2014. At present, the two schools combine forces in football, track, boys soccer, cross country, bowling and cheerleading. Afton had last played football in 2003 in a long-standing alliance with Bainbridge-Guilford.

   If anyone from outside Section 4 was going to catch the error, it was going to be NYSSWA football editor Steve Grandin, who compiles assorted preseason info for our website (including the week-by-week schedule) and then rounds up all of the state's scores each weekend.

   Steve, who has a sharp eye for detail, spotted the discrepancy while tidying up some of his files and messaged fellow NYSSWA contributor Mike Connell, who operates the popular website. From there, Mike contacted Section 4 sources to start a chain of events Tuesday that led to Wednesday's announcement.

   Hard feelings in Western N.Y.: Jeremiah Sanders, a first-team all-state pick last fall as a South Park offensive lineman in a state-championship season, has transferred to Bishop Timon-St. Jude.

   Sanders, a junior who has been a starter since his freshman season, is a 6-foot-2, 265-pound Division I or II prospect.

   Coaches Tim Delaney of South Park and Charlie Comerford of Timon have decidedly different takes on what transpired, The Buffalo News reported.

   Comerford says Sanders contacted Timon back in the spring. Delaney believes Timon initiated the discussions.

   "They recruited him, it doesn't matter what anybody says," Delaney told the paper. "They recruited him actively because if they didn't, Charlie calls me and tells me your kid contacted me. ... That never happened. There's no doubt in my mind (they recruited him). My problem with it isn't that the kid went to another school. It's that we are three days away from playing and this is allowed to happen. Just line up the facts and how does this not straight up stink of recruiting from a private."

   Said Comerford: "We don't contact kids from other schools. They have to contact us. Once they contact us football site

then we can pursue him. We're happy to have him. He's a great kid. The recruitment charge is totally unfounded."

   Sanders is not yet eligible under Monsignor Martin Association rules, but that's more of a paperwork formality at the moment. The Tigers open their season Friday at Buford (Ga.), followed by games in Week 2 at Toledo (Ohio) Catholic and in Week 3 at Permian (Texas).

   South Park opens Friday against St. Joe's in one of the relatively rare NYSPHSAA vs. MMA matchups. Don't look for more such contests involving South Park.

   "I'll never play a Catholic school again," Delaney said.

   Seriously? Officials at Elmore (Ala.) Edgewood Academy have decided to forfeit Thursday's scheduled football game against Prattsville (Ala.) Autauga Academy because of alleged threats made by Autauga Academy.

   A letter sent to parents by Head of School Clint Welch cited "credible information regarding recent threats of intentional injury during the Edgewood Academy vs Autauga football game."

   Welch also noted the majority of his school's roster would be playing its fourth scrimmage or game in 10 days "and safety is of the upmost importance."

   The source and nature of the threats seems to be a matter of some dispute. First-year Edgewood coach Kyle Glover said his AD had not seen any evidence of threats and knew nothing about the threats, but his board president and headmaster had made this decision.

   Autauga Academy officials denied that any threats have been made by its players or coaching staff.

   The game would have matched Autauga offensive coordinator Bobby Carr against his former team. Carr unexpectedly left the Wildcats this offseason after leading Edgewood to six straight state championships and what was then the nation's longest win streak at 71 games.

   Edgewood has started the season 0-2 after a number of players followed Carr to Autauga.

   The forfeit drops Edgewood to 0-3 and requires that the school pay a $2,500 fine.

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