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Saturday, June 24, 2017: Comerford resigns as AD, football coach at Timon

   Leading off today: Controversy and confusion have taken center stage in Western New York amidst a shakeup at Bishop Timon-St Jude High School.

   In a statement released shortly before 2 p.m. on Saturday, the school administration acknowledged that it had decided not to renew the contract of Principal Michele Battin and that Charlie Comerford has resigned as athletic director and football coach.

   "We are actively pursuing new candidates for these positions and have nothing but the best interest of our students in mind," the statement concluded.

   Rumblings of trouble began appearing on social media platforms Friday evening, and the website began reporting details Saturday morning.

   Comerford took to the Timon football account on Twitter to confirm his departure, indicating Battin's dismissal was a crucial factor in his decision to leave:

Comerford statement, part 1

   Comerford was a football and basketball star as a Timon student. He returned to his alma mater in 2012 to succeed Al Monaco as football coach. He steered the team to a 38-29 record against increasingly challenging schedules including games in Ohio, Texas and Georgia to begin the 2016 season.

   Boys basketball coach Des Randall disputed an early report that he had also resigned, telling The Buffalo News that he has "not made any decisions, yet."

   It also appeared less likely that the football and basketball programs were at risk for next school year, although several players have expression concern and disappointment about the developments. This tweet from rising senior quarterback Matt Myers, a UB commit, was representative:

   Remembering 104 in a row: Hundreds of people gathered Friday to commemorate the Union Academy of Belleville's state-record 104-game winning streak in boys basketball from 1966 to 1971.

   Coach Tom Murphy and nearly 20 players who participated the streak, which ended in the 1971 Section 3 championship game, attended the gathering in the Belleville Henderson Central gymnasium.

   "It brings back a lot of good memories," said Murphy, who coached for the first 83 games of the streak before passing the reins to Steve Van Dusen in 1970 and leaving to coach at Hamilton College. "There are great people in this community and we had great kids on that team. They really played hard, and we got lucky and won a bunch of games, but the support of the community was always great."


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  •    The celebration continues Saturday with a parade, the unveiling of two commemorative road signs in the village and the first reveal of a monument to honor the streak, which was part of a 182-7 record over a 10-year period. Belleville's win at Sandy Creek early in the 1969-70 season was No. 72 in a row to break the state record of 71 by Power Memorial from 1961-65, which was led by Lew Alcindor.

       David Kohl, a 1967 Belleville Union graduate and current professor emeritus at Virginia Tech University, compiled an oral history DVD about the streak and has penned a book, "Union Academy, The Vintage Years: 104-0."

       Kohl has earmarked profits from the book for an effort to revive the Belleville Bell Tower, the only building still standing from the original school.

       "What we're trying to do is capture the history and bring a little bit of proud heritage to a small town," Kohl said.

       Bowing to her beliefs: The Journal News wrote this week about one of the questions that had gone unanswered from this month's state track and field championships at Union-Endicott.

       Woodlands senior Jheon Webb finished a solid second (winning her heat in :15.57) in qualifying in the Division 2 girls 100 hurdles but scratched the next day before the final.

       From sundown Friday until sundown Saturday, Webb and her family do not participate in secular activities. They are devout Seventh-day Adventists. Jheon's maternal grandfather is an elder at his church in Jamaica and her dad, Donald, is an elder and youth leader at First Seventh-day Adventists of White Plains.

       "Initially there's some disappointment," Woodlands assistant track coach Jason Parker said. “We could actually have had a state champion."

       When Audrae Webb learned her daughter's hurdles final was scheduled for a Saturday, she was hit with "every emotion" she knew Jheon would feel, she said.

       She texted to tell her the bad news but concluded, "If you stand up for God, he'll stand up for you."

       "I love running. I love hurdling," Jheon said, adding, "I represented myself and represented my school and was standing up for my religion."

       Watson advances: Rush-Henrietta senior Sammy Watson will be the eighth and final seed Sunday in the finals of the USA Track & Field Championships in Sacramento.

       Watson ran 2:02.54 in the second semifinal on Friday to place a comfortable fourth and move on.

       A top-three finish in the final would advance Watson to the World Championships this summer before she begins her freshman year at Texas A&M.

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