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LIC never in jeopardy, but state's extension helped immensely

William Floyd quarterback A.J. Otranto raises his helmet

William Floyd quarterback A.J. Otranto raises his helmet before the game against Farmingdale in the Long Island Class I football championship at Shuart Stadium. (Nov. 29, 2012) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The 2012 Long Island Championships were never in danger of being canceled because of superstorm Sandy, but Long Island officials needed to petition the state for permission to extend the football season one additional weekend.

According to Nina Van Erk, executive director of Nassau County sports, the state limits the fall season to 15 weeks. When football playoff games scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 2-3 were postponed, some rescheduling had to be done because the 15th week concluded on Thanksgiving weekend, when the Long Island Championships usually are held.

Van Erk said she and Ed Cinelli, Suffok's executive director of sports, worked with Dr. Tom Rogers, district superintendent at Nassau BOCES and a member of the New York State Council of School Superintendents, to draft a letter that Van Erk sent to the New York state commissioner of education and the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association (NYPHSAA).

"The letter basically said that due to extenuating circumstances from the storm, Nassau and Suffolk counties, Sections VIII and XI, would like to extend the football season to Dec. 1," Van Erk told Newsday.

She said that in her previous post as executive director of NYSPHSAA, she encountered a similar situation several years ago when the Buffalo City League petitioned the state for an extension for its football playoffs because of a severe snowstorm that wiped out a weekend of games. "I knew an extension had been granted before," Van Erk said.

Van Erk said Long Island's request was approved immediately (during the second week in November) and plans were made to reschedule the football playoff games and move the Long Island Championships to this past weekend.

Floyd and Farmingdale agreed to move their game from Friday afternoon to Thursday night, but the other games were scheduled for Friday and Saturday. "We couldn't play Sunday because the petition extended the season only to Dec. 1," Van Erk said.

If the petition had been rejected, Van Erk said she and Cinelli had a backup plan ensuring that all football playoff games would take place and that the LIC would be played on Thanksgiving weekend.

"But it would have only provided the teams with four nights' rest in between games," Van Erk said. "We would have had to re-schedule for school nights and we would have been concerned about the loss of school time. We also would have been concerned about having games after only four nights' rest. The schedule would have been tight."

She said the Long Island Championships "were never in jeopardy of not taking place -- as long as the weather continued to cooperate, which it did" -- but the extension was the much-preferred alternative.

Said Van Erk, "It allowed for greater flexibility, appropriate time in between contests and for the games to be held [mostly] on weekends and not school nights."

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