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High schools wait and see Closings wreak havoc with late-season schedules

Williamsville East girls soccer coach Chris Durr doesn't have power at his house. Several of his players don't have power at their homes. But they keep calling him and asking: "When are we going to play?"

High school student-athletes in Erie County are all asking that same question, whether they attend a city, suburban or Catholic school.

With myriad school closings due to last week's storm, many high schools' sports are currently under an extended time out.

Although there are some exceptions, most districts do not hold athletic activities when their schools are closed. Athletic directors are in the unfamiliar position of having to reschedule games -- or waiting to reschedule games -- with fall seasons on the verge of the postseason in many sports.

The highest profile sport of the fall is the most complicated rescheduling task, particularly in the Section VI Football Federation. Most games scheduled for last weekend -- Week Seven of the eight-week regular season -- were canceled. There are no extra weekends to reschedule games in the public school football season, which has games each weekend through the state finals in Syracuse Nov. 24-25.
This weekend's games will be played as originally scheduled. Section VI chairman Chuck Funke said that some Week Seven games will be replayed -- most likely on next Tuesday, Oct. 24 -- if their outcomes will have playoff implications. The exact plan was to be laid out at a Section VI football meeting late Monday night.

Sweet Home and Williamsville East were both in the middle of the Class A North playoff race before last weekend. The Williamsville, Amherst and Sweet Home districts are closed for the week, but a teacher development day on Friday -- scheduled for that day well in advance -- will allow them one day of practice on Friday before playing key games on Saturday (Starpoint will play at Sweet Home while East is at Grand Island).

"On Friday, school is open for a staff development day [in Williamsville, Sweet Home and Amherst]," said Sweet Home superintendent Geoffrey Hicks. "We're likely to have sports teams practice on Friday and it's up to each athletic director to coordinate games."

Hicks said Friday's day of practices would happen only after receiving clearance from the Amherst chief of police during a meeting on Thursday.

"Safety of the students is the paramount concern," said Hicks.

However, some Section VI football teams may not be able to take the field this weekend if their schools are closed the remainder of the week.

The Kenmore-Tonawanda district will be closed through at least Wednesday, and Athletics Director Brett Banker said it is possible the district will be closed all week.

"I'm not allowed to let coaches play or practice unless we're in session," said Banker, who said the school closings have claimed 75 games across the modified, junior varsity and varsity levels.

If Ken-Ton schools are closed Friday, Banker said Saturday's annual football rivalry game between Kenmore East and West will be postponed. If the game is postponed, Banker said he has already looked into holding the game in the middle of next week. "The game is important to the community and it's important to the kids."

For football, the Buffalo Public Schools' Harvard Cup and the Monsignor Martin Association both had an extra week in their schedule before their championships in which they will reschedule their Week Seven games.

The city will attempt to start school Thursday, which would preserve this weekend's games. The All High semifinals in boys soccer were to be held today, as were some crucial final regular-season cross country meets.

"We'll get everything in," said Buffalo Public Schools Athletic Director Dave Thomas. "We'll make them up, it's just a question of when."

Monsignor Martin Association President Brian Kiszewski said he's hoping to hold a meeting of athletic directors on Wednesday to assess the remainder of the season.

"We're actually trying to get info from the schools as to what their status is," said Kiszewski. "Obviously we can't play when schools aren't in session. And for me to say that a kid has to get to a football game when he lives in Amherst -- and they can't drive there yet, I have to look at that as a safety issue."

For boys and girls soccer, Section VI is scheduled to have seedings meetings on Saturday with games starting on Monday. Sectional seedings are determined by a power points formula based on the total of league games a team is scheduled to play. However, Williamsville East's boys and girls soccer teams -- both ranked first in Western New York -- will potentially not play any more games the rest of this week due to their school being closed.

Section VI's executive committee has its usual meeting scheduled for Wednesday, where it will decide whether to alter the power points formula this season.

e-mail: kmcshea@buffnews.com

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