Sports Editor’s Playbook, Friday, Oct. 14, 2011

Patrick Newell

John Stewart served as master of ceremonies for an emotional remembrance and dedication Wednesday afternoon just outside the Norwich High School tennis courts. Stewart, who has coached 28 sports seasons in tennis and swimming, unveiled a memorial plaque in honor of former tennis player Krissie Collier, was passed away suddenly this past June. Collier played varsity tennis throughout her high school career, and was at the top of the doubles lineup for most of those years. Collier was situated on court four, and that court was renamed “Krissie’s Court.” It was heartening to see such a large contingent of family, friends, and most of Norwich’s sports teams attend the dedication. And, despite the forecast of rain, not a drop of the wet stuff appeared. Big kudos to Sarah Stewart, who organized the dedication, and to Norwich’s director of athletics, Steve Griffin. “Griff” has not taught in the classroom for a number of years, but he didn’t forget how to give a speech. His poignant recounting of experiences with Krissie moved many people in attendance to tears.

I don’t mention Afton sports that much, but the boys’ soccer team has made some small inroads toward respectability. For most of the program’s existence (at least six or seven years by my count), the Crimson Knights were almost penciled in as a win for the other team before the contest was ever played. Second-year head coach Todd Dancesia inherited a team last year that not only had little to no success the previous year, but little experience. Now in year two of Dancesia’s tenure, the Knights nearly upset Walton twice (Walton is among the top three teams in the MAC), lost six games by one goal, and earned its first-ever wins over Sidney and Oxford over the past week and a half. Afton could be a program to watch in the MAC within the next couple of years.

Sherburne-Earlville coach Mike Jasper said his team made a mistake at the start of last year when it used the wrong alignment in the backfield. Around the third game, Greg DuVall moved to tailback, and he became the downhill type of runner the team needed en route to a 6-3 season. Will Slentz became an effective runner as a wingback, and Cory Musician provided the tough inside yards at fullback. “We learned our lesson from last year,” Jasper said. During the preseason, the S-E coaching staff moved sophomore Austin Jasper from tight end to running back, even though Jasper had not played running back. Combined with Musician at fullback and the speedy Devven Ferris, the Marauders have perhaps the most balanced rushing attack in the area. “Austin is kind of an odd physical presence back there because he’s so tall,” Coach Jasper said of his nearly 6-foot-3 son. “We just didn’t have anybody to step into the role that Greg occupied last year. We have to get the ball into the hands of the kids that can do it for us.” Musician, Ferris, and Jasper are all on pace to eclipse 600 yards rushing this season, so the adjustments made at the start of the season are clearly working. So much so, S-E is a victory away from clinching its first Section III playoff berth.

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