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Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017: Salem won't play varsity football this season

   Leading off today: With a 2-15 record over the past two seasons and just 19 players on the field for practices this week, Salem has dropped varsity football for the second time in four years.

   Superintendent of Schools David Glover announced on Friday that the school would field only a junior varsity.

   "I hate to do it, particularly with those senior kids who won't have that last chance to play football," Glover told The Post-Star. "It was a tough decision-making process, but our total numbers are not enough to warrant two teams, and we want to provide the most kids an opportunity to play."

   Glover also said first-year coach Jon Braymer had decided to step down as varsity coach late this week. Fred Truehart will coach Salem's JV team.

   Salem's late decision leaves holes in the schedules of several Section 2 Class D opponents, but a few have been able to fill the open dates with Cohoes, a late addition to the varsity ranks this month after itself having played a JV-only schedule last year.

   Glover said Salem plans to look at its football future -- including a possible merger with Cambridge -- after this season.

   Salem's BEDS number this fall according to the NYSPHSAA is just 142, which is actually up from 118 a year ago and 111 for the 2015 season. A decade ago, the BEDS figure was 200.

   Fort Edward/Argyle might also be facing a go/no-go decision before the season kicks off. The Flying Forts have been practicing with just 18 or 19 players, The Post-Star reported.

   Changes at Sachem East: Seventh-year head football coach Mark Wojciechowski and an unnamed assistant have been reassigned at Sachem East pending the results of an investigation into the death of junior Joshua Mileto, 16, during a training drill last week, Newsday reported.

   According to a statement by Superintendent Kenneth Graham, defensive coordinator Anthony Gambino will serve as the interim coach.


   Graham said the team will practice Saturday as it prepares for the upcoming season and that the scheduled opener Sept. 1 at Longwood had been scrapped in order for the team to put in the required number of preseason practices. Sachem East will now open Sept. 9 at home against Lindenhurst.

   Wojciechowski did not return the paper's message seeking comment Friday. Wojciechowski, who won Newsday's Hansen Award in 1985 as the best football player in Suffolk County, has not spoken publicly since Mileto's death.

   Wrapping up last year: I'd hoped to have the project done to coincide with the start of practices around the state last week, but the New York State Sportswriters Association's football site

2016-17 Year in Review has now been posted, leading off with Ward Melville's stunning late rally for a state boys lacrosse championship in June.

   The recap of the year's highlights and lowlights begins here.

   Shedding light on Monday's plans: The Daily Gazette in Schenectady checked in at several schools to see how coaches plan to deal with practice schedules Monday, when a will take place beginning at 1:22 p.m. and cluding just before 4 o'clock.

   The eclipse figures to be more of a distraction than an event requiring teams to stop work, but there is also the well documented concern about the potential for permanent vision damage for those who try viewing the eclipse without proper protection.

   Shenendehowa field hockey coach Jeanne Frevola said coaches at the school received a precautionary email from its lead athletic trainer Rick Knizek. "He wanted to make sure kids aren't looking at the sun," Frevola said.

   Niskayuna is among the schools planning a viewing party. Protective glasses will be available, and a school science teacher will oversee data collecting on light intensity, UV radiation and air temperature.

   "I've always been interested in science," Niskayuna varsity volleyball player Arelson Rapisura said. "Maybe it's going to be once in a lifetime. I want to see it."

   Realistically, a lot of sports teams will not be affected at all. Football and cross country are examples of sports in which coaches prefer to do their preseason work before or after the day's high-heat window of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

   As the paper noted, probably the biggest effect on Capital Region sports Monday will be felt at Saratoga Race Course. Post time for the fourth race (2:45 p.m.) coincides with peak viewing time for the eclipse.

   Stripped: Olive Branch (Miss.) has been ordered to surrender its state championship trophy in girls basketball following a determination that the team used an ineligible player last season.

   "It was brought to our attention that an ineligible player had participated on the Olive Branch girls' varsity team," Mississippi High School Athletic Association Executive Director Don Hinton said. "Upon investigating we found out that did indeed occur."

   The ineligible player was an eighth-grader who had transferred but had not established residency in the Olive Branch district. She appeared in eight games.

   Besides surrendering its first state title and forfeiting all of last season's games, Olive Branch will have to serve a one-year probation and a one-year postseason ban in the sport.

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