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Back to the high school gridiron

Start of new season brings a full slate of changes

— So it’s Monday, Aug. 15, and despite all the rain, in 79 venues around the vast scope of Central New York young men in shorts and T-shirts put on helmets, and all was normal with the world again.

Sure, the summer is fun, and the rest and respite is necessary. But once you spend too much time stuck in the quagmire of the debt-ceiling debate, man, you need something, anything, to lighten the mood.

This is where high school sports fits in to remind us that, while it’s still just a game, it can help us forget, at least for a couple of hours, all the worries that confront us elsewhere.

And in the autumn, the main focus is on the gridiron, or the grass, or the turf, or whatever other substance is used as ground for football players to fly around and hit each other hard.

Focus on the Section III scene, and as usual the changes, each off-season, are vast. Going into 2011, a few of the moves schools have made are real eyebrow-raisers.

One jolt is seeing Skaneateles in Class C. Just as Tim Green was raising the program’s profile and the Lakers were moving up the Class B ranks, enrollment shrinks and, bingo, now it’s playing Tully and Bishop Ludden instead of long-time foes like Marcellus and Westhill. Remember, though, the Lakers’ only sectional title, in 1992, came in Class C.

What Skaneateles leaves behind is a B picture slightly altered. Chittenango goes from East to West, Ilion moves up, Hannibal goes to C and two new faces show up after years in the A ranks. Camden joins the East and Mexico joins the West, the latter renewing its long-time rivalry with Phoenix.

This, combined with Oswego’s return to the Class AA ranks, leaves Class A with just 10 remnants. All but two of them will get into the playoffs. Here, there are nine incumbents and one new face – Fowler, who had no chance among the AA heavyweights and is a better fit here.

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