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Soccer talk, from Oneonta to Strong Island to pay Web sites to private schools and back again

Give me some time to get a schedule straight and do some research -- and no live blogging to do -- and this is what happens:

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All three Section VI boys soccer teams which have advanced to the state final four are meeting teams from Long Island.

Clarence is taking on Brentwood of Long Island in a rematch of last year's memorable Class AA state championship game, won by Brentwood, 2-1.

(Here's last year's live blog and an exhaustive account from the Clarence and EA games on what was one of the coldest days I've ever spent covering high school sports. Also, check the comments after the "More from ..." post -- pretty entertaining stuff from one of our nominations for Crazy High School Sports Parent of 2008.).

Brentwood ended last year, and began this season, as the top-ranked team in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll (check out their poll page, which will be updated Tuesday).

Here's a Newsday blog entry about how Strong Island ... I mean Long Island ... soccer people were wondering "What's going on with Brentwood?" this season. 

[Want to see the game story that Newsday wrote on Brentwood's Long Island championship victory?

You'll get as far as I got -- unless you subscribe to Newsday or Optimum Online (the paper is owned by Cablevision, which offers that Internet service). It's quite an interesting approach that paper/media company has taken. You are, after all, reading stories like this one for free at buffalonews.com, but as many have heard or read, the business model isn't exactly thriving. With that in mind, I encourage you to click on several ads in return for reading this :-)]

Back on the field, Brentwood, which hails from Suffolk County (Section XI), beat Hicksville of Nassau County (Section VIII) by a 3-0 score to reach the state semifinals.

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Grover Cleveland also plays a Long Island team -- Center Moriches. The Newsday searches are sort of pointless, but here is a story by the Journal News of Westchester County about Center Moriches' victory over Rye Neck.

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Holland is coming off a tremendous victory over Red Creek in the Far West Regionals -- I remember Red Creek winning last year's state title and not only could they play, but it seemed like their whole town was in Oneonta dressed in red and white.

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Holland now takes on Long Island private school Friends Academy, which beat Blind Brook in a double-overtime thriller covered by the Journal News.

Yes, you read that right.

Friends Academy is a private school located in Locust Valley, which is on the North Shore of Long Island. Being a native funny tawker (I went to the South Shore school playing for the Suffolk Division II football title next week), I can attest that the North Shore is, generally speaking, an affluent area. That's why the Great Gatsby hung out there. That's why Billy Joel has said: "You either date a rich girl from the North Shore or a cool girl from the South Shore."

I'm digressing a bit, but you see what I'm saying about LI's North Shore, which is part of a mini-rivalry of sorts with the South Shore. It's kind of like Western New York's Northtowns-Southtowns thing (except it's kind of opposite -- on LI, the South Shore is better, and in WNY, the Northtowns are better :-) ). 

Anyways, back to the team that Holland is playing soccer against.

Check out Friends Academy's school Web site. Definitely looks like a great school, and it definitely looks like it aims to attract the very best students from Long Island. Students pay $26,300 tuition -- per year. 

Oh, sure, that sounds like a school just like Holland Central. Ridiculous.

Friends Academy looks like a wonderful school and I have nothing against any of their students or faculty or alumni or athletic facilities (like their 990-square foot weight training room).

But when it comes to sports, and for where they get plugged into a structure for a state tournament, it is not a Class C school. 

Friends Academy is like Buffalo's Nichols School, except in an area with more people (and more money). Class C? Nichols playing in Class C around here would be -- to use a word from a few paragraphs above -- ridiculous.

Maybe it's me, but I think there is no place in Class C or D for private schools. Public and private schools are apples and oranges, which is why they should be separated when it comes to sports. The smaller you get in school size, the bigger the division between the apples and oranges. Class C and D schools are not only the smallest districts in the state, they are, generally speaking, located in rural areas, and, unlike private schools, are restricted geographically in which students walk through their doors and on to their teams.

They are schools like Holland. 

The state Federation basketball tournament, which brings together the champions of the state's public, private, Catholic champions with those from New York City's Public Schools Athletic Association in a true state championship, thankfully went to a AA-A-B format recently. I'd like to think part of the reason for the change is that Class C and D should be private-school-free zones.

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So how did Friends Academy get into Section VIII? I'm pretty sure they filed a lawsuit to do so.

All my google-ing couldn't find out exactly how that went down, but I did find a court case (Friends Academy v. Section VIII of the New York State Pub. High Sch. Athletic Ass'n,) cited in -- get this -- a Cornell Law School review of a case in which Olean's Archbishop Walsh filed a lawsuit to try and gain entry into Section VI.

Check out the links -- if you are looking for a headache, or a nap, or both, try reading any of it.

What was the Walsh thing all about?

I will now quote from another high judge: now-Bills beat reporter Allen Wilson, who wrote in a story in The News on April 3, 1996:

"A ruling by the state's most powerful court Tuesday put an end to Archbishop Walsh's three-year legal battle to gain entry into Section VI.

"The New York State Court of Appeals upheld the section's postcard ballot vote in 1993 which denied the Olean Catholic high school membership. Contending that its right to equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution was violated, Walsh's leadership filed a lawsuit after their membership application was rejected by the majority of the section's 92 public schools.

"But the court voted, 6-1, that Walsh's equal protection claim was unfounded and that Section VI had 'legitimate' concerns about athletic advantages Walsh has over public schools, such as the ability to draw student-athletes from outside its district.

" 'Section VI's membership qualifications for non-public schools are consistent with and further the identified purposes by reasonably assuring that all member schools have the opportunity to compete on a relatively level playing field,' the court said in a ruling written by Judge Joseph Bellacosa. 'This goal would be jeopardized by unlimited or unqualified membership admittance of private schools that are able to offer financial incentives and other differentiating admission incentives to their students.' " 

The few paragraphs above are still enough to get people fired up about private schools not being allowed in Section VI.

OK. End of our soccer-sparked trip around the Internet. There will be a preview story coming later this week.

---Keith McShea

buffalonews.com/highschool     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

tagged

Clarence | Grover Cleveland | Holland | Soccer
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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.

@KeithMcSheaBN | kmcshea@buffnews.com

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