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Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015: Ex-Harrison athlete who spoke of addicition dies

   Leading off today: A former Harrison football player profiled recently in a story about athletes who become addicted to heroin through prescription pain medication was found dead Sunday afternoon in his parents' home, the paper reported Monday.

   The Westchester Medical Examiner's Office confirmed the death of John DeFonce, 20. A spokesman said Monday that while medical records show that DeFonce had a history of substance abuse, a cause of death has not been established.

   DeFonce had recently completed a four-month treatment program and was a resident at its halfway house in White Plains. He was home on a weekend pass, and DeFonce's parents made a 911 call Sunday afternoon reporting an unresponsive man. Police said they arrived to find DeFonce dead in the basement apartment.

   In a late-summer interview with The Journal News, DeFonce told the paper he traced his drug addiction to pain pill prescriptions he received for a football knee injury in high school. When his doctor refused to write him more prescriptions, he said, he began buying drugs on the street.

   Milestone: Garden City field hockey Diane Chapman registered her 400th victory with an 8-0 win over Oyster Bay on Monday. Michaela Bruno scored three goals.

   This score just in: I didn't think it was possible for a kid to score eight touchdowns in a game for a top-ranked state football team with scarcely anyone in the media noticing.

   I thought wrong.

   Zack Loomis of Avon, the state's No. 1 Class D school, did precisely that on Friday during a 59-35 victory vs. York-Pavilion. Loomis' eight scores tied the Section 5 record set by Geneseo's Xavier Copeland in a 2010 game against Barker.

   Loomis finished with 29 carries for 323 of the Braves' 499 yards on the ground. He has season totals of 969 yards and 18 touchdowns in the team's 6-0 start.

   More football: Understandably, No. 1 Canisius vs. No. 3 Aquinas in Class AA will be getting a lot of attention this weekend. But the NYSSWA's Andy Slawson took a look at what's on deck for Week 7 on Long Island, and it's an impressive schedule.

   For starters, there are four head-to-heads among unbeaten NYSPHSAA teams, highlighted by Class AA East Islip vs. Class A Sayville on Saturday.

   "This is the game people on Long Island have been pointing to since the schedule came out in March," Slawson said.

   Also on Saturday, West Islip is at Newfield, and Shoreham-Wading River hosts John Glenn.

   In Class B, Seaford hosts Locust Valley on Friday in what will be a top-10 battle.

   Lest we forget, there are other unbeaten ranked teams meeting this weekend. The key game of the CHSFL large-school schedule pits unbeatens on Saturday when St. Anthony's travels to Class AA No. 2 Archbishop Stepinac. In Class A, Christ the King and Xavier will be holding down state rankings when they kick off.

   Moving back upstate in search of showdowns between unbeatens, Ravena will be at No. 1 Schalmont in Class B. In a Class D contest between top-10 teams, No. 2 Red Jacket will meet Clyde-Savannah, and there's a Whitehall vs. Cambridge showdown in Section 2. football site

   All in all, it's a pretty good weekend for football in what looks like will be some genuine football weather.

   Honeoye appointment: Eastridge assistant Trevor Gage was appointed boys basketball coach last week at Honeoye, where the school board recently decided against re-appointing Mark Storm.

   Gage inherits most of the roster from last winter's 3-15 team.

   Speaking of Storm, who coached a variety of sports -- baseball and softball, and soccer and basketball with both genders -- at Honeoye beginning in 1983, The Daily Messenger rolled out a follow-up to his Aug. 5 dismissal by a 5-2 vote.

   Storm, a now-retired teacher who won 405 games in girls basketball when he moved over to the boys team in 2013 to stabilize a program rocked by a well-publicized hazing incident, says he still has not received an explanation for his firing.

   "There's no smoking gun here, no single issue," Keith Stumbo, president of the school board, said in August. "It was a combination of events, and we thought maybe it was time for a new direction."

   According to a July 30 email obtained by The Daily Messenger through a Freedom of Information Law request, board member Sandra Hubble received a message on behalf "of a group of parents to request a meeting between any and all board members to discuss concerns we have in regards to Coach Mark Storm ... We started this process back in January 2015 and have expected to receive a positive outcome, but have not. Our concerns are legitimate and we are prepared to move forward."

   The paper acquired a Jan. 30 email to then-AD Phil Huber and Superintendent David Bills. According to the author, whose identity was redacted, "playing for Coach Storm, going to practice, playing in games, and just playing these sports (is) an unpleasant experience." The author states that he or she "would like to have the opportunity, as taught by this district, to stand up against the mistreatment, bullying, negative environment, in making sure everyone is treated with dignity and respect."

   The paper reported that another undated letter to Bills went much further in its attack, alleging "Mark clearly has a drinking problem" and stating Storm on two occasions was "excessively drunk" with the entire team present at the coach's home. It concludes by saying that "a once respected coach and educator is now the drunk laughingstock of town."

   In the absence of comment by administrators or school board members, it's pretty clear those three pieces of correspondence played a big role in getting Storm fired. I make that point only because 22 other emails provided to the paper in the FOIL request were largely glowing assessments of his ability by parents and colleagues.

   "Speak with the athletes who "hated' his guts while he was coaching them and then came back as adults to thank him just as many sons and daughters fight with their parents over 'things' not being fair and then later thank them when they become parents themselves," states a June 8 email to Bills.

   Postscript: Storm learned this past week that his coaching career at Honeoye is in all likelihood finished. Though he's been the varsity baseball coach for 12 years, but his recommendation for the job in 2016 from current AD Jeff Orman was refused by the Board of Education last week.

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