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Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019: Embattled DiRienzo resigning at New Rochelle

   Leading off today: Embattled New Rochelle football coach Lou DiRienzo is resigning a month after the longtime educator was reassigned during a district investigation, The Journal News reported.

   The school district released a statement Wednesday in which DiRienzo announced that he is resigning from coaching and teaching effective Dec. 31. He has worked in the district for 28 years.

   "After much thought, I have decided to resign from my positions as head football coach and teacher at New Rochelle High School," DiRienzo said in the statement. "I am proud of my students' and teams' accomplishments on and off the football field these past 28 years. I will always be rooting for the Huguenots and the New Rochelle community. I thank the community for its support over the years."

   DiRienzo, whose career record was 236-79-2, was removed from coaching on Nov. 13, four days after the Huguenots won their fifth consecutive Section 1 Class AA championship. The team went on to win the NYSPHSAA championship three weeks later.

   DiRienzo was New Rochelle's head coach for all but two seasons since 1990. Before that, he served as head coach at Lincoln High School in Yonkers from 1985-87. He left the New Rochelle program and worked as an assistant coach for Pace University from 1996-97 before returning in 1998.

   New Rochelle has won 14 Section 1 titles since 2000 and reached eight state finals, winning in 2003, 2012 and 2019.

   "The Board thanks Coach DiRienzo for his years of dedicated service to the community and wishes him well in all of his future endeavors," the district said in a statement.

   DiRienzo was reassigned from his teaching and coaching positions after an incident at the high school. District leaders have not commented on why DiRienzo was reassigned. Laura Feijoo, who started her role as the superintendent amid controversy just two weeks before the DiRienzo reassignment, faced backlash from the community for her decision.

   Pioneering coach dies: Mike Bowler, who started the Rocky Point lacrosse program with an intramural team in 1974 and coached the varsity team for 42 years, died on Dec. 1 at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. He was 72.

   Bowler taught social studies for 12 years before being promoted to vice principal, a position he served in for 19 years. Despite retiring in 2004, Bowler continued as head coach until last month. He won 444 game sand a NYSPHSAA championship in 2008.

   "He is the sole reason that I got into coaching,” said former player and current Stony Brook University women's lacrosse coach Joe Spallina. "He showed an ability to connect with all different types of people and to get the best out of people. The style that he did it (with) is remarkable. He had a way of connecting with the best guy on the team or the kid who's not getting the most amount of playing time."


   Milestone victory: Unatego girls basketball coach Bob Zeh picked up his 600th victory with a 71-35 win over Walton on Tuesday.

   "I had no idea. We got over there and I saw their coach (Gary Backus) all dressed up," Zeh said. "I asked him why and he told me it was a special night."

  • 2019 NYSPHSAA football brackets
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  • NYSPHSAA cross country: 2019 boys meet | 2019 girls meet
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  •    The win improved Unatego's record to 4-0 this season. Zeh is 52-18 in Otego after a previous 527-277 mark coaching boys at Oneonta for 28 seasons and then girls there for 10 more seasons.

       "It's a neat thing. Just a matter of being around a long, long time," said Zeh, 77. "I love the game or I wouldn't do it. I love working with kids. It helps me stay young, and I like teaching the game and helping them prepare for life."

       Hali Lucia led the Spartans with 14 points followed by Morgan Perry's 13.

       Milestone performance: New Hartford's Kaia Henderson is now the school's career scoring leader in girls basketball just weeks into her sophomore season.

       Henderson scored 36 points in New Hartford's 61-42 win over visiting Vernon-Verona-Sherrill. Five games into her fourth season, Henderson stands at 1,536 points. She entered the game 12 points away from breaking Nicole Karam's career mark of 1,511 points.

       She also owns school records for points in a game (47) and season (593 as a freshman).

       Home streak snapped: Williamsville East went on a 9-0 run to start the fourth quarter en route to a 55-46 boys basketball victory at Olean, ending the Huskies' home-court winning streak at 80 games.

       The Olean home streak began after a 56-43 loss to Batavia on Dec. 3, 2011.

       Olean led 38-36 before the Flames' rally. A 3-pointer by Max Schneider put East in front to stay at 41-38 with 6:05 left. Schneider had all nine of his points in the 13-2 run.

       Cal Shiflet led the Flames with 25 points.

       Unified sports policy revised: The state Board of Regents had voted to change and expand the high school eligibility rule for Unified sports. Participants with developmental disabilities, who are allowed to graduate from high school when they are 21, can now play Unified sports until they reach that age, as well.

       The previous age limit had been 19 years old, conforming to the New York State Education Department regulation pertaining to traditional high school sports.

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