Leading off today:
Rensselaer won't field a varsity football team this year because the Section 2 school does not have enough players
Superintendent Joe Kardash said 31 players expressed interest in the spring but not nearly enough showed up and then made it through the first week of practice. Just eight players appeared on the first day of practice and then 10 by mid-week. NYSPHSAA rules require a roster of at least 16 players for 11-man football.
Rensselaer will field a modified team with about 25 players and hope that the district can rebuild interest to either field its own team or find a suitable merger partner.
Supporters not giving up: Supporters of former baseball coach Marv Matteson spoke at the Iroquois school board meeting Monday in a bid to have him reinstated for the 2020 season. Nine returning players from the varsity baseball team wearing their red ball caps were among those appearing.
Matteson, 77, was informed in July that his contract would not be renewed for what would have been his 54th year of coaching in Western New York.
Parent Jeff Bowen said he met with district Superintendent Douglas Scofield and two members of the school board last week but did not get any more clarity on why Matteson's contract was not renewed. He added that he is not optimistic that the district will change its position.
"I got a very clear feeling that their minds were made up. They weren't going to budge," Bowen said.
Scofield again said at the meeting that he could not disclose details of the decision not to renew Matteson's contract. Matteson has previously said he believes parents of two JV players left off the team's spring training trip to Florida applied pressure to fire him.
After coaching baseball, basketball and cross country at Kenmore East for 34 years, Matteson took over the baseball program at Iroquois in 2001.
Jury clears ex-Webster coach: A jury cleared former Webster Schroeder football and girls basketball coach Kali Watkins on Monday of charges he raped a 14-year-old student.
Watkins, 42, was accused of first- and second-degree rape stemming from an allegation that he coaxed a girls' junior varsity basketball player into a locker room in January 2017 and raped her.
Attorneys for Watkins, who was not arrested until January of this year, argued that the girl's allegation made no sense, based on alibis for Watkins and the timeline of the alleged rape. The teen first told a friend months after the alleged assault and then grew angry when the friend wanted to tell adults, according to testimony.
Watkins was put on administrative leave from his teaching job in November 2017 and fired the following month.
National participation slips: The annual National Federation of State High School Associations survey released Monday shows the first decline in total participation in high school sports in three decades.
The NFHS said that the total number for the 2018-19 school year was 7,937,491. The previous year saw a record high participation level of 7,980,886. The decline was the first since the 1988-89 school year. There were no figures