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Friday, Dec. 6, 2019: Catching up on some recent H.S. sports news

   Leading off today: It's time to catch up on some stuff I haven't been able to get to in the last few days ...

   Tragic story detailed: USA Today reported this week on the suicide of a former New York high school football star, whose downward spiral from a promising future may have begun with a head injury sustained in a college game.

   Matthew Benedict was an all-state selection in Class B for Nichols in Western New York in 2010. Playing for Middlebury College three years later, Benedict took a hard knee to the head in an October game against rival Trinity.

   "It was the first time in any of my kids' lives when I said, 'Get up, Matt. Get up, Matt,'" Anne Benedict told the paper.

   He did get up and went on to finish the game, making 19 tackles from his defensive back position. Within weeks, however, his family noticed changes in his personality. They described him as tense, reclusive and having difficulty sleeping and focusing.

   Less than six years later, the young man took his own life at the ago of 26 by jumping from the 17th floor of a building.

   "I just can't take the pain anymore," he wrote to his parents. "I don't know who I am anymore."

   The Benedicts suspect their son had the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), possibly the result of multiple hard hits in football and ice hockey. The paper said they are speaking out about the importance of parents educating themselves and the need to erase the stigma that persists around mental health issues.

   You can read the full story here.

   Lincoln gridder honored: Abraham Lincoln running back and defensive back Israel Abanikanda has been selected Gatorade's New York football player of the year.

   The 6-foot, 195-pound senior, who has committed to Pitt, rushed for 1,350 yards and 20 touchdowns on 136 carries this season. e also averaged 36.3 yards per kickoff return and made 30 tackles and two interceptions on defense.

   He finished third in :11.01 in the 100 meters final for non-NYSPHSAA members at last spring's state track championships.

   Sec. 6 assistant dies: Buffalo South Park volunteer football assistant coach Nate Dunbar died Thursday at the age of 46. He had suffered a heart attack last winter and had since been in a coma.

   "The kids loved him," head coach Tim Delaney said. "He knew a ton of guys ... even kids who didn't know him before joining the program would get to know him and love him."

   Coming home: Brianna Allen Carpenter, who pitched Aquinas to a New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship in 2008, has been named the new softball coach at her alma mater.

   Carpenter, the state Class A player of the year as a senior, most recently coached at Houghton College and was previously on the staff at Alfred University. She graduated from Niagara University in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in sports management.

   Weather woes: Inclement weather and concerns about preparation time forced the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference to postpone its football postseason this week.

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  •    Quarterfinals originally scheduled for Tuesday were pushed back a day, as were semifinals originally slated for Sunday. Championship games will be played as scheduled Dec. 14.

       I dissent: I pay for the content of exactly one website devoted to high school sports, and that's the nychoops.net site, which is part of the Rivals.com network. The site a great resource for keeping up on boys and girls basketball developments in New York City and the metropolitan area, which is why I've subscribed for probably six or seven years now.

       This week, writer Maurice Wingate posted a column that I don't quite understand. Wingate thinks PSAL basketball teams have an unfair advantage in intracity action because they are allowed to begin practice in the last week of October and begin playing non-leaguers roughly two weeks ahead of Thanksgiving week league openers.

       By comparison, the downstate CHSAA teams wait until the second week of November to start practicing, with non-league games beginning Thanksgiving week.

       I kind of/sort of understand the concern there, but I don't think it's a huge deal. Nearly all of the interesting PSAL vs. CHSAA action takes place after the end of the year holidays, by which time everyone is running on all cylinders.

       What I really don't get, though, is Wingate's complaint that seems aimed primarily at schools like Long Island Lutheran and Albany Academy, which play in the AIS or other smaller organizations and do not play league schedules.

       "Additionally, Independent school's regular season ends a month before the New York State Championships begin unlike most PSAL and Catholic schools that only have a week to prepare," he writes. "Some may argue that having a month off is actually a disadvantage because you get rusty. Others say, teams that have a month off have more time to scout or rest up."

       Wingate calls for all organizations to start and end their seasons at the same time and have independent schools placed into leagues. His conclusion is that "only then will we know, who's the best."

       I just don't see the logic. Study the results from three decades of the Federation tournament and I don't think you come away with a conclusion that says any team or league has an advantage or disadvantage. It's more about the players they put on the court and not how much (or how little) time they had off before the tournament.


      
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