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Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018: Burnt Hills junior athlete dies in car crash

   Leading off today: A Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake football player died in a car crash in Glenville on Friday night.

   Deacon Martucci, 16, of Glenville, was transported to Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, where he died from his injuries. Police said the accident was a one-car rollover and that there were no passengers in the vehicle.

   Martucci played JV football as a sophomore last fall and was practicing this month with the varsity.

   "Our hearts are filled with grief and sadness today as the BH-BL Community mourns the loss of one of our students," reads a statement on the district website. "We ask the community to please keep them in your thoughts in the following days."

   Anatomy of a downsizing: Coaches of the combined Oakfield-Alabama/Elba football program were optimistic about the stability of the program for much of the summer. Based upon who was showing up for workouts, the summer skills camp and other activities, head coach Michael Cintorino thought he'd be opening practice last week with as many as 29 candidates.

   Even with predictable attrition -- players losing interest after a day or two of practice or not showing up at all because of summer jobs -- the team should have still been on solid ground.

   As detailed by The Daily News, optimism screeched to a halt Monday and Tuesday as coaches and administrators made the decision to convert to eight-man football.

   As is sometimes the case in small-school football, the underlying problem was not raw numbers. Of the 21 players who showed up Monday, only six had played on the offensive line.

   "We were already contemplating moving some guys that played other positions to the offensive line and knowing that wouldn't be the perfect scenario we were still comfortable with it," Cintorino said.

   And then Tuesday arrived. Two of those six lineman quit before the afternoon practice. A third was called into work and did not make it to practice.

   "Now we were down to three offensive lineman that were going to be eligible for the scrimmage next week," Cintorino said. "At that point, knowing what we would have to move around, we just didn't feel that would be in the kids' best interest. Not to mention, at that point we only had 18 eligible kids now for the scrimmage. And if anyone else were to miss a practice or two in the next two weeks we were looking at the real possibility of having to forfeit out first game."

   More eight-man football: With a rash of conversions in Section 3 leading the way, the first week of practice ended with 29 teams slated for eight-man and just 46 left in NYSPHSAA Class D. Here's the by Steve Grandin:

  11-man Eight-man
Section 1 2 1
Section 2 5 0
Section 3 10 11
Section 4 10 5
Section 5 13 4
Section 6 4 0
Section 7 2 0
Section 8 0 0
Section 9 0 7
Section 10 0 1
Section 11 0 0
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   The imbalance we've written about several times before remains in place as 37 of the 46 Class D teams reside in the West half of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association bracket.

   Free for all: Mike Connell of Section4Foot- noticed this posting on the Chenango Forks Facebook page and school district website:

   "The Chenango Forks School District will no longer charge admission for regular season sporting events. However, we will charge when hosting post season events that require an admission charge set by STAC or Section IV."

   On the move: I disagree with the logic behind a few such decisions each year, but I understand the reasoning by a majority of the basketball players who opt to leave their high schools in order to attend prep schools outside New York for their final season or two before what they hope will be Division I college careers.

   Realistically, many of those players are stepping up in competition -- both in terms of a longer, more challenging schedule of games and the benefits of practicing every day against teammates who will also be heading to Division I colleges soon.

   Age is a consideration that sometimes gets overlooked, and it's at play in the latest Rochester-area transfer decision. WHAM-TV reported this weekend that Bishop Kearney guard A.J. Gray will attend Mercersburg Academy in southern Pennsylvania this fall.

   The 6-foot-4 guard, who averaged about 10 points a game last season, would have been a senior this fall and then headed off to college a year from now as a 17-year-old. As part of the transfer, however, he will reclassify to the Class of 2020.

   Mercersburg is a serious prep school rather than a basketball factory masquerading as an educational institution. A couple of years there should make Gray a better fit in terms of age and experience as potential recruiters from Ivy League and Patriot League programs track his progress.

   Extra points: The nation's longest active high school football winning streak ended Friday in Wisconsin as Fond du Lac scored a 31-28 win to end Kimberly's run of 70 straight victories. Jared Scheberl kicked a 26-yard field goal on the final play of the game to break a tie.

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