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Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017: Tiny Ticonderoga defeats large-school opponent

   Leading off today: I wouldn't have given it a second thought, but Steve Grandin of the NYSSWA noticed early last week that there was a fairly unusual crossover game on the Week 8 football schedule.

   While most NYSPHSAA teams north of Long Island were slated for playoff quarterfinals or crossover/consolation pool games within their respective sections, the game that stood out to Steve was Niskayuna's trek north to play Ticonderoga.

   Niskayuna is a Class AA team from Section 2, and Ticonderoga plays in Class D in Section 7. The BEDS numbers of the two are 1,037 and 193, respectively, and games between schools of such vastly differing sizes are rare to say the least. The equalizer to some extent was that Ticonderoga brought a 7-0 record into the contest while Nisky entered with a 2-5 mark -- with the wins against teams that entered this weekend a combined 0-14.

   Sure enough, Ticonderoga won Friday's non-leaguer 39-20. Senior Hayden Scuderi led the way for the Sentinels with 14 carries for 160 yards and three touchdowns. Ticonderoga finished with 280 yards on the ground.

   Naturally, it got people wondering whether a Class D football team had ever defeated a Class AA opponent.

   I'm sure someone will come up with a more recent instance, but the closest I can recall involved the 1986 Clyde-Savannah team.

   The Golden Eagles, a small-school power back then and the state's top-ranked Class D school this week, found out late in the summer that their Week 2 game was canceled as a result of their opponent opening practice with too few players to field a team. Not wanting to sit while everyone else was playing, Clyde-Savannah agreed to travel to play Utica Proctor and came home with a 24-0 win early in what turned out to be a 10-0 season.

   I couldn't find BEDS data from three decades ago, but my notes at the time showed that Proctor was four times the size of Clyde-Savannah. In those pre-state playoff days, Clyde-Savannah played in Class C (the smallest class) in Section 5. When the first full NYSPHSAA tournament was conducted seven seasons later, the Golden Eagles won Class D.

   More Clyde-Savannah: That game against Proctor was the source of one of the funniest stories I've ever heard a coach tell about himself.

   Realizing just before kickoff that he had not met all of the game officials, the Golden Eagles coach walked down the sideline toward a ref, extended his hand and said, "Hi, I'm Ron Vitticore."

   The ref shakes hand and says, "Ron, we met."

   "No, I'm sure we haven't. I'm Ron Vitticore ..."

   "Ron, we met."

   The ref turns and walks down the sideline to get in position for the start of the game. By now, the Clyde-Savannah coach is confused and a little embarrassed. A few moments later, the Golden Eagles receive the opening kickoff and return it a short distance. As the Clyde-Savannah offense runs on to the field, the public-address announcer says, "And tonight's game officials are John Smith, Bill Jackson, Joe Douglas and Ron Whemet."

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   At this point, Vitticore realizes that the guy wasn't saying, "Ron, we met." Rather, he was introducing himself as "Ron Whemet."

   As Vitticore would tell the story, assistant coach John Pezzulo was trying to send plays down via the headset and all Vitticore could do for the opening series was repeatedly say, "Oh, my God, John. His name is Ron Whemet ..."

   Eye-opening data: Newsday published a nicely reported and written story this weekend about girls playing football

  
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across the high school ranks, from modified up to varsity competition.

   There's some out- standing insight from the female athletes, but the NYSPHSAA data cited by the paper is the star of the story. In short, we're way beyond the novelty now of "Hey, look, there's a girl playing football!"

   Participation numbers are way up over even just a few years ago, with Long Island leading the way.

   There were 269 girls playing at some level in the NYSPHSAA last fall according to the organ- ization's annual survey of member schools. Of those, 124 were at Section 11 schools and another 57 at Section 8 schools, meaning the Long Island sections accounted for more than two-thirds of all female football players across the state.

   Previous participation surveys notes only nine girls playing during the 2011 season and just 71 as recently as 2015, the paper reported.

   Indiana infighting: A head coach and his offensive line coach have both been suspended for their Indiana school's playoff opener next weekend as the result of their sideline skirmish during a game last week.

   The fireworks began when their Columbus North team missed a 30-yard field goal at the start of the second quarter of what ended up being a 28-14 victory against Southport. Their argument turned physical and was captured by a newspaper photographer.

   Spectacularly dumb quote: For the second time this season, a Chicago football team has been awarded a forfeit victory because an opponent's administrators deemed that school's neighborhood too dangerous.

   WLS-TV reported that the Bishop McNamara team opted not to play this weekend at Chicago Hope Academy over fears of violence at Altgeld Park on Chicago's west side. During a game there against Providence High on Sep. 29, shots were fired in close proximity. Witnesses described a scene in which all the players on the field and sidelines dropped to the ground to protect themselves.

   Wheaton (Ill.) St. Francis was the first to forfeit, followed by Bishop McNamara.

   "We had the police commander call and the mayor's office. The police commander guaranteed their safety," Hope Academy President Bob Muzikowski said. "If the Lord of the universe comes down here and gets nailed to a cross and beaten to death, the least you could do is come down and play football on the west side."

   Really, sir?

   More later: We'll back back later on Sunday with our usual recaps of highlights from Saturday's high school sports action across New York.


  
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