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Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020: Class AA and A all-state football teams

   Leading off today: Four outstanding seniors have added their names to the list of players of the year as the New York State Sportswriters Association announced its 2019 all-state football teams in Classes AA and A on Wednesday.

   The co-players of the year in Class AA are running backs Jessie Parson of New Rochelle and Israel Abanikanda of Abraham Lincoln.

   The co-players of the year in Class A are Plainedge quarterback Dan Villari and Cornwall running back Amin Woods.

   Parson rushed for 1,684 yards and 26 touchdowns this past season and finished with 2,116 all-purpose yards and 30 TDs overall on a total of just 133 touches on offense. He ran for 327 yards and scored five times vs. Carmel in the Section 1 title game and capped his career with 177 yards on 12 carries to help beat McQuaid 28-0 in the NYSPHSAA Class AA championship contest in Syracuse.

   Abanikanda, a University of Pittsburgh recruit, ran for 1,350 yards and 20 TDs on just 136 carries as a senior as the Railsplitters reached the PSAL semifinals. He also caught 13 passes for 182 yards and three touchdowns, and averaged 36.3 yards on kickoff returns.

   Villari, who signed with Michigan last month, led Plainedge to the Long Island Class III championship as a dual threat. He rushed for 1,495 yards and 25 touchdowns and passed for another 1,315 yards and 13 touchdowns.

   Woods, who helped Cornwall to consecutive New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships with 50 touchdowns and more than 4,000 yards on the ground since the start of his junior season. As a senior, he ran for 925 yards and 16 touchdowns in five postseason games.

   Here are links to the all-state teams and additional information:

   • 2019 Class AA all-state team
   • 2019 Class A all-state team
   • Recent NYSSWA players of the year
   • All-state teams, 1999-2019
   • Final 2019 Class AA and A state rankings

   The NYSSWA announced its Class B, C and D and eight-man all-state teams last week.

   Thank you: As usual, credit goes to Steve Grandin of the New York State Sportswriters Association for editing the all-state football teams.

   Steve has handled the all-state duty for a number of years, but he did so this fall while also stepping up to oversee the weekly rankings in football (and now boys basketball) while NYSPHSAA czar Neil Kerr has been recuperating from illness.

   There's no way I would have been able to juggle that many balls at once, but Steve has done a great and much appreciated job of keeping our proverbial trains running on time.

   Section 2 showdown: Shenendehowa strung together three defensive stops in the final two minutes and received big baskets from Bella Stuart, Rylee Carpenter and two clinching free throws from Meghan Huerter to edge Averill Park 54-50 in girls basketball Tuesday.

   Shen is ranked No. 3 in the state in Class AA and Averill Park is No. 1 in Class A. (Full rankings here.)

   "They tested us every way they possibly could tonight," Shenendehowa head coach Joe Murphy said. "They had a great defensive effort and game plan. It was different kids in different moments."

   After senior Kelsey Wood put Averill Park up 50-48 with 2:05 left, Stuart drove for a bucket to tie. The Shen defense came up with two blocks to keep the score tied, and the Plainsmen went ahead for good on Carpenter's lay-in with :42 to go.

   Another No. 1 falls: Brianna Smith finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds as Oakfield-Alabama edged Elba 48-45.

   Elba is ranked No. 1 in the sate in Class D.


   Milestone win: Bishop Grimes boys basketball coach Bob McKenney collected career win No. 600 as the Cobras defeated Syracuse CBA 58-44.

   The victory came three days after Brothers coach Buddy Wleklinski booked his 500th victory.

   Ian Denton scored 18 points, AJ Burnett added 17 and Joe Wike hit for 15 in the victory as the Cobras improved to 8-3.

   "It's a special thing," said McKenney, who previously coached in Vermont and at Jamesville-DeWitt. "This group has been special. It's my original group here at Grimes."

   More boys basketball: Newburgh edged previously unbeaten Kingston 58-49 as Amarri Tice scored 17 points and Ernest Elliot contributed 10 of his 16 points in the second half to lead the Goldbacks.

   Kingston is ranked sixth and Newburgh eighth in Class AA in the latest NYSSWA rankings. (Full rankings here.)

   The Tigers committed 19 turnovers as they struggled against a smothering man-to-man defense.

   "We did not play particularly well. We've got to play better than that and we got to make better decisions," Kingston coach Ron Kelder said. "There were way too many turnovers, way too much dribbling. That's the bottom line."

   Division 2 hockey clash: John Jay Cross River's Jack Browne scored two power-play goals late in the first period to break a scoreless tie en route to edging Pelham 3-2.

   "When we get rolling like that it opens up the flood gates and builds up the energy level and allows us to explode pretty much," Browne said.

   Kyle Petschek's deflection of a Charlie Oestreicher shot that made the score 3-1 proved to be the game-winner, with Pelham tallying with a minute left in the game to close out the scoring.

   JJCR is ranked third and Pelham seventh by the NYSSWA this week.

   "Four power play goals against Rye. Two or three against Greeley," Pelham coach Ed Witz said of JJCR. "Their power play has been carrying them. But it's one thing to know what to avoid and quite another to avoid it."

   New C-G coach: Hornell assistant coach Steve Donlon has been appointed as the new football coach at Canisteo-Greenwood.

   Donlon replaces Paul Keeley, largely responsible for rebuilding a struggling program into a Section 5 contender firmed up by stable modified and JV programs.

   "It's been an amazing journey to see where the program is from when I took over," Keeley said. "We had about 45 kids playing football and were coming off an 0-8 season when I took over. Now, we've just finished our fourth consecutive season with three levels of football and over 80 kids playing football, and a big reason is the community. The school district also supported having additional coaches to field three programs at a time when others are making cuts."

   Donlon was an at Canisteo-Greenwood from 2000-07 and has 19 years of coaching experience.

   "I'm so happy that he is getting this opportunity, although we will miss him tremendously," said Hornell coach Erik Werner.

   Changing course: A Connecticut high school is reinstating a Native American-themed mascot and nickname that had previously been deemed too offensive.

   The Killingly school board voted 5-4 last week to return to the Redmen mascot after having approved a change to Red Hawks in October. That change came about after a debate last spring ended with the school board giving the mascot name decision to the Nipmuc Tribal Nation.

   But that triggered an upheaval in the school board resulting from the highest voter turnout in more than a decade, according to the Norwich Bulletin. The new board got rid of the Red Hawks name in December and agreed to explore a new logo to replace a depiction of a Plains Indian. School officials will also introduce a curriculum on Native American history.

   Killingly had used the Redmen mascot and a Native American logo since 1939, but the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation spoke out against the name.

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