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Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020: Section 8 may expand rule on blowout victories

   Leading off today: Section 8 administrators are examining applying their policy on penalties for lopsided victories in football to other sports.

   A 15-person committee is scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss how to make football's sportsmanship policy, which can result in one-game suspensions for winning coaches, applicable to other team sports, Newsday reported.

   "If you want to put what we're trying to do in one general statement, it's this: Is it educationally sound to beat the pants off somebody?” said committee member Jim Amen, the AD at Manhasset. "I don't think that's good for anybody, especially in high school athletics."

   The football policy was enacted in 2017 in a bid to reduce the number of blowouts. The rule mandated that the coach of a team that won by more than 42 points must explain in writing to a committee what was done to try to avoid such a rout.

   That policy led to a one-game suspension for Plainedge coach Rob Shaver in the fall last fall following a 61-13 win over then-unbeaten Rockville Centre South Side. The score threshold has been exceeded 11 times since the rule went into effect, but Shaver was the only coach to be punished.

   The details of what a new policy would be for sports such as basketball, soccer and lacrosse are still in the early stages, said Dom Vulpis, assistant executive director of the section. The only team sports that could be exempt from the potential policy are baseball and softball, which have mercy rules in place.

   Boys basketball coordinator Walter Bachman said one option in his sport might be to remove starters and stop pressing when the lead reaches 35 points. Girls soccer coordinator Mike Bongino said he's spoken to coaches about allowing a losing team to put an additional player on the field.

   Vulpis said that the disciplinary procedure is also being examined with an eye toward perhaps not imposing suspensions for first or second offenses by a team.

   Baines reaches 2,000: Portledge School sophomore Zaire Baines went over 2,000 career points Wednesday, pouring in 27 points in an 86-53 victory over hosting Avenues: The World School.

   He entered the contest with 1,998 varsity points and now has 2,025, becoming the 15th boys basketball player in Long Island history to score 2,000. He's the third New York boy to reach the milestone the season, joining R.J. Davis of Archbishop Stepinac and Mason Putnam of Prattsburgh.

   "As a coach and a fan of the game, I think it's incredible, unheard of, coach Nick Tsikitas said of Baines achieving the feat while in 10th grade. "Thinking of what he thinks, he couldn't care less. He truly couldn't care less."

   Milestone for McDougald: Sixth-year Niagara Wheatfield varsity wrestler Justin McDougald set a school record with his 223rd victory during a meet vs. Grand Island.

   "I've had him since he was 5 years old at the wrestling club and now I've watched him mature into a young man and leader," said coach Rick Sweney. "This past year he has really stepped up and matured as a leader and a captain."

   McDougald, a four-time Section 6 champion and twice a finalist at the state meet, is 32-1 this season and 223-27 for his career.

   Legendary coach dies: Retired Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha basketball coach Morgan Wootten, died Tuesday at the age of 88.

   Wootten coached for 46 seasons and was just the third high school coach to be inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. His record was 1,274-192 and every senior on his teams received a college scholarship offer over 31 straight seasons.


   Arguably his most famous victory came in 1965 when DeMatha snapped Power Memorial's 71-game winning streak. That New York City team was led by future college and NBA great Lew Alcindor. The Stags double- and triple-teamed Alcindor, holding him to 16 points and 14 rebounds in a 46-43 victory.

   L.I. reporter honored: Newsday's Gregg Sarra has been named the recipient of the New York State Football Coaches Association's Hunter Low Media Award for reporting on high school football.

   "Gregg has been at the forefront of Newsday's excellent coverage of high school football and turned it into a must-read every weekend in the fall," said Hans Wiederkehr, retired president of the Suffolk County Football Coaches Association. "Gregg is willing to take a stance on issues that impact the game of football and his passion for all high school sports is reflected in Newsday's outstanding coverage on a daily basis."

   The NYSFCA awards banquet is scheduled for Turning Stone Casino Resort on Feb. 7.

   A good read: The Post-Star had a nice story last week on Granville wrestling coach and physical education teacher Steve Palmer deploying to Kuwait with his New York National Guard unit. Palmer, a Sergeant Major and a medic, was given a sendoff ceremony by the school before Christmas break to recognize the second time since 2006 that he's had to do an in-season deployment.

   "I personally am proud of him for it," said senior wrestler Cole Haines. "He's serving his country, he's protecting all of us here."

   The wrestling team has been wearing red T-shirts with the words "Remember Everyone Deployed" on the back.

   "They are what we stand for," senior Tyler Muise said. "We're really proud to be Americans and proud that he's going over there."

   Assistant coaches T.J. Zovistoski and Ron Boisclair are running the team in Palmer's absence.

   "There's definitely a hole here in the room," Boisclair said. "Mr. Palmer is great, he's done a lot of great things for the kids and me personally. We miss him this year -- it's a little different without him."

   The pay question: I stumbled across a recent story out of Florida tackling a thorny college subject that has high school implications that might not be obvious.

   California recently passed legislation allowing college athletes there to hire agents and be paid for endorsements. Other states are lining up to follow suit and the NCAA and its conferences have been examining options.

   "High school athletic directors and coaches, who presumably will act in a manner consistent with the mission of education-based athletics and in the best interests of young student-athletes, will be able to serve as a partial barrier against such exploitation of high school athletes,” said Lee Green, an attorney who specializes in sports law. "However, as has repeatedly been demonstrated over the years, scholastic athletic personnel are limited in their ability to hold back the tsunami of economic forces at work in the marketplace and will need extensive assistance from legislatures and state associations to enact safeguards to protect high school and middle school student-athletes."

   It may have seemed preposterous 30 years ago, but the Internet era had made national stars out of more than a few scholastic athletes who are headed for fame and success in short order at the collegiate and professional levels, particularly in basketball.

   As such, we may soon be entering an era in which college commitments are based as much on potential endorsement money windfalls as they are on the history of the program and reputation of the coaches. That adds a level of complexity for the players' families and their high school coaches in sorting out scholarship offers.

   Extra points: Springfield Gardens senior Reheem Hayles threw down a 1:19.10 in the 600 meters on Monday to take over the national indoor track leade in the event.

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