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Sachem East reassigns football coach during investigation

Sachem East's Head Coach Mark Wojciechowski on Saturday

Sachem East's Head Coach Mark Wojciechowski on Saturday October 18, 2014 at Brentwood High School.Bob Sorensen Credit: Bob Sorensen / Bob Sorensen

Sachem High School East has reassigned head football coach Mark Wojciechowski and an unnamed assistant pending the results of an investigation into the death of a player during a training drill on Aug. 10, according to a statement by Sachem schools Superintendent Kenneth Graham on Friday night.

Graham named Anthony Gambino as the team’s interim coach. Gambino was the defensive coordinator of the team.

“The school district continues its investigation to gather the facts surrounding this devastating event,” the statement said. “While that investigation continues, the district has determined that the Sachem East football head coach and another member of the coaching staff will be reassigned, pending the outcome of that investigation.”

Graham said the team will practice on Saturday as it prepares for the upcoming season.

“The administration and athletic director will closely monitor the practices,” the statement said, “and the district will continue to offer support services to the family, team, staff and entire student body.”

The school’s athletic director is Gary Beutel. He could not be reached for comment.

Junior Joshua Mileto, 16, died last week after a log that he and four other players were carrying over their heads during a drill fell and struck his head.

A district representative had said on Thursday that Sachem East decided to go forward with its varsity and junior varsity seasons following a meeting with players, parents, coaches and administrators, but that coaching changes were likely to occur.

Graham also said on Wednesday that “at any given point” the findings of the Suffolk County police investigation as well as the district’s own internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mileto’s death “could potentially affect the team.”

Suffolk police officials said Friday that the incident remains under investigation.

Mileto died while taking part in a summer football camp run by Sachem coaches on school property but funded by the Sachem East Touchdown Club. Representatives of the booster club have not returned messages seeking comment.

Wojciechowski, who has been the head coach at Sachem East since 2011, did not return a message seeking comment Friday. Wojciechowski, who played high school football at Sachem and won Newsday’s Hansen Award in 1985 as the best football player in Suffolk, has not spoken publicly since Mileto’s death.

Graham also reached out on Friday to Tom Combs, executive director of Section XI of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, the governing body of Suffolk high school sports, to officially express the district’s intention to play the football season.

Combs said in a telephone interview he had been in contact with Graham and other school officials throughout the week. He said they had already agreed on a new schedule that allows Sachem East to open the season with a bye week “as a way to help them out.”

The schedule, which first appeared on the Sachem East booster club’s website on Thursday, shifts Sachem East’s opening game from Sept. 1 at Longwood to Sept. 9 at home against Lindenhurst.

“All of the coaches were very agreeable to this plan,” Combs said.

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