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Tioga County Sports Report
TIOGA COUNTY — For many young people, participation in athletics doesn't end after high school. They move on to play a sport (even two for some) at the collegiate level.

There are well over 100 Tioga County athletes currently competing in college.

Several sports are well represented at a variety of institutions, and one of the most popular right now seems to be volleyball. The county has at least 20 girls playing college volleyball. Owego has at least a seven grads competing at the next level, and Candor, Tioga and Waverly have multiple college players as well.

SUNY Broome Community College has taken the plunge into the local talent pool with Owego's Macey Gibson, Maddy Powell, Mackenzie Struble, and Sara Zepkowski, and Tioga's Bri Rossi on its roster. The Hornets swept Jefferson CC, 3-0, Tuesday evening.

Gibson, Struble, Zepkowski and Rossi played in all three sets and combined for 12 kills, 23 assists, 16 points, 17 digs and three blocks. As a whole, the team registered 26 kills, 24 assists (Struble dished out 21), 43 digs, 16 points and five blocks, so I'd say the local contingent made a nice impact in the BCC season opener.

A Thrill A Minute
Speaking of volleyball, Tuesday's match between Candor and Tioga was not only one of the most intense volleyball matches I've witnessed in my 35 years as a journalist (25 covering sports), it was one of the most intense athletic events of any type I've seen.

The Indians and Tigers were tied at least 25 times throughout the 5-set marathon and there were approximately 20 lead changes. The largest lead of the night in any single set was six points — which Tioga achieved three times in the final game. I think Tioga's humid gym might have played into it a little bit.

These two teams could meet again Saturday at the annual Tioga Tournament and will also have a divisional rematch Oct. 8 in the Candor gym.

And The Winner Is
Fall sports state championships are still several weeks away, but the "experts" are already telling us who they think is best.

The New York State Sportswriters Association debuted its Fall 2021 rankings Tuesday with three Tioga County football teams making the grade.

In Class D, Tioga is No. 2 behind defending state champion Clymer / Sherman / Palmer and SVEC is No. 2 in the 8-man ranks behind Red Jacket. Waverly is ranked 14th in Class C. Section IV has 13 teams ranked or honorable mentions in the Week 1 poll.

The NYSSWA also released its first boys soccer rankings of the season Tuesday with six Section IV teams earning nods.

Eight Is Enough
For the past few years there have continuous grumblings about 8-man football in New York. Why do we even have 8-man? Why is this school allowed to play 8-man when it has enough players to participate at the 11-man level?

Whether you like it or not, 8-man is the way of the future for many small school districts across the country.

Participation in tackle football is declining in so many way.

According to data from the Aspen Institute and the National Federation of State High School Associations, from 2008-09 to 2018-19 the number of youths ages 6-18 playing tackle football dropped by more than 620,000 from about 2.5 million to less than 1.9 million.

Some experts believe overall high school participation in tackle football will drop to below one million players in the not-too-distant future. 

From 2008-09 to 2018-19 season attendance at top-level college games (Football Bowl Subdivision) declined by almost 10 percent per school.

In the NFL, Super Bowl viewership dipped 24 percent from its peak season (2011) to 2019.

In Section IV, there are 13 8-man teams as compared to eight Class D programs, and there are now more than 40 8-man teams in the state.

One problem with 8-man is there is just one classification. A school that may have just 15-20 players total is in the same classification as a school that has 15-20 varsity players and 15-20 JV or modified players.

If 11-man can have five classifications, why can't 8-man have at least two?


IN PHOTO 2: L-R, Mackenzie Struble, Sara Zepkowski, Bri Rossi, Macey Gibson, Maddy Powell. ... PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL ROSSI.

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