A statewide football all-star game in Syracuse pitting upstate players against their downstate counterparts appears to be close to reality, two years after New York bowed out of its annual contest vs. New Jersey.
Speaking at the Section I football awards banquet over the weekend, North Rockland coach Joe Casarella indicated that an official announcement should be coming soon, and the New York State Sportswriters Association reported that the Carrier Dome has tentatively been reserved for June 6.
Each team is expected to have a roster of approximately 50 seniors, all nominated by their own coaches and then narrowed down by a selection committee.
New York has been without a statewide showcase since withdrawing from the Governors Bowl after the 2008 contest vs. New Jersey due to a dispute about scheduling venues. New Jersey officials wanted to keep the game anchored at Rutgers University rather than alternating with West Point or another New York facility.
One sticking point for the new all-star game, however, will be the date. Sectional and state playoffs in the major spring sports, including lacrosse, baseball and track (all popular with football players) are still in progress. Final exams, graduations and the July 4 holiday chew up the next three weekends, after which many of the top players would be unavailable because of commitments to their college programs.
More football: UB finds Gill’s replacement
Athletic Director Warde Manuel moved quickly in replacing Turner Gill, with the University at Buffalo announcing this week that Cincinnati offensive coordinator and interim head coach Jeff Quinn will take the helm after the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1.
Quinn was introduced on campus Tuesday and made a good impression with Western New York high school coaches by vowing to continue recruiting actively in the area.
He’ll already be inheriting a much stronger program than Gill was handed there four years ago, but there are big challenges on the horizon. For starters, UB did not reap a significant recruiting windfall from last year's winning record and bowl appearance because some recruits were scared off by hearing Gill's name mentioned as a candidate for several of last season's coaching vacancies. Though he stayed on an additional year, Gill was lured to Kansas this month as the replacement for the embattle Mark Mangino.
The Bulls have seven early commitments, and two of them are regarded as a notch better than anyone to have entered the program during the Gill era. But that goes by the wayside if Quinn can’t conveince running back James Potts of Delray Beach, Fla., and QB Rudy Johnson of Owings Mills, Md., to remain onboard.
It will also be interesting to see how Quinn fills his coaching staff, since Gill is likely to bring some of his staff to Kansas and several Cincinnati assistants could follow Brian Kelly to Notre Dame after the Bearcats’ bowl game. Quinn has coached alongside Kelly for 21 of his 26 college seasons.
Quinn was a potential permanent hire at Cincinnati, but Butch Jones of Central Michigan ended up getting the job. It's likely that development created urgency for Manuel since Quinn would have been a logical candidate at Central Michigan.
Wrestling: Circle these dates
Chenango Forks and Spencerport share the No. 1 spot among large schools in the season's first state wrestling rankings, and it shouldn’t be long before the issue is settled head to head.
Chenango Forks (262 points, Ridgeway, Pa., (226½) and Spencerport (209½) took the top three positions at the 25th Jamestown Holiday Classic. Chenango Forks and Spencerport are on a collision course to meet in the final of the prestigious Union-Endicott Duals Jan. 2-3, though one of them likely will have to squeeze past No. 3 John Glenn to reach the final.
No. 7 U-E and No. 8 MacArthur are also in the tournament field. No. 3 Greene is the highest-ranking small school scheduled to compete.
* Beacon senior Ryan Tompkins had a memorable week. First, he signed a letter of intent to wrestle for the U.S. Military Academy after being informed that his nomination to West Point had been approved. And then he picked up career victory No. 193 on Tuesday to become the winningest wrestler in Section I history.
Tompkins won a pair of 152-pound matches via pins in duals against Arlington and Roy C. Ketcham to pass Joe Mazzurco, who won 192 matches for Mahopac before graduating to 2001.
Ice hockey: Hobey Baker Award slated for New York
The Hobey Baker High School Character Award is coming to New York hockey this season for the first time.
The award was founded in 2003 and is already presented to a player at every hockey-playing school in 15 states. St. Anthony's Athletic Director Donal Buckley has been enlisted to get the New York chapter up and running.
The award will go to a player at each school demonstrating character, commitment, teamwork, persistence, selflessness, academic excellence and sportsmanship.
Buckley is in the process of collecting contact information for each school and expects to send out information in mid-January. School officials seeking more information can contact him via e-mail.
* Defenseman Ryan Michel’s two goals and two assists lifted unbeaten and top-ranked West Genesee to a 4-0 victory over No. 5 Ithaca. It was the 10th straight win for the Wildcats.
Boys basketball: Rush-Henrietta stays perfect
Juniors Mandell Thomas and Ashton Broyld combined for 43 points as Rush-Henrietta improved to 4-0 with an 87-77 victory vs. 2009 state quarterfinalist Greece Athena in Section V action. Thomas scored 13 and Broyld nine in the fourth quarter for the Royal Comets. John Wallace scored 26 points for Athena, which cut a 16-point deficit to three in the third quarter.
Girls basketball: East Irondequoit pulls surprise
Eastridge pulled one of the biggest surprises in recent Section history with its 54-53 upset of Pittsford Mendon, which was coming off Friday’s upset of state-ranked Pittsford Sutherland.
* Watkins Glen sophomore Taylor Chaffee scored 26 points and grabbed 24 rebounds to beat Odessa-Montour 53-48.
John Schiano, who has written about high school sports in western and central New York for more than 25 years, covers New York for MaxPreps. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.