Section VI commits to postseason if games are played in fall

Paul Battson/contributorIn this Nov. 12, 2019 file photo, Grand Island's Tom Shemick and Jon Simpson block a finishing attempt from North Tonawanda's Noah Fox-Stoddard (1) during the Section VI Division II-B boys volleyball championship match at Lackawanna High School.

If everything goes the way New York State hopes and the delayed high school fall sports season opens Sept. 21, then Section VI is committed to a postseason, according to Section VI president Brett A. Banker.

Banker, who also serves as President of the New York State Athletic Administrators Association and as the athletics director at Ken East/West high schools, said the VI “Executive Committee” met early Monday morning to review the New York State Public High School Athletic Association COVID-19 Task Force's latest report and to discuss postseason options in all the traditional fall sports.

Last week, the NYSPHSAA voted to delay the start of the 2020 fall season in this state and canceled all fall regional and state championships due to the deadly global coronavirus pandemic, making sectional championships the furthest teams could advance in the playoffs. The previously-scheduled practice starting date was Aug. 24 in NYS.

Banker said the section's executive director, Timm Slade, is currently busy working on 2020 postseason times and dates.

“The Section VI Executive Committee is committed to providing championships in all fall sports, assuming we start on Sept. 21 and proceed through the season,” Banker said.

“We're fortunate to have talented and dedicated sports chairpeople who, under the direction of our executive director Timm Slade, will get to work on a postseason schedule now that we have our new start date. The section places a high priority on league play. We'll work alongside the executive directors from each league to make sure they feel good about the number of contests they're able to schedule before the start of sectional play. We want to maximize league competition as best we can while still holding our postseason.”

Banker said among the options discussed is extending league play three weeks, which will account for the move that was made in the start date from late August to mid-September. Section VI leagues involving local high schools include Niagara Frontier League, Niagara-Orleans League and Erie County Interscholastic Conference.

“We're fortunate that so many of our communities have supported Capital Projects to upgrade athletic facilities,” Banker noted.

“Because of those advancements, we feel like we can safely play fall outdoor sports into mid-November.”

NFL executive director Patrick M. Burke said the section's decision gives league's specific dates that they have to finish their league schedules by.

“It gives us some clarity — we'll know that if we're going to sectionals, we'll have to be done with out league schedule by a certain date,” Burke said.

Burke added that a virtual meeting is scheduled today with local athletics directors to discuss the latest information from the state and to fine tune potential schedules by determining the amount of league games teams will play, etc.

Meanwhile, the New York State Catholic High School Athletic Association announced on Monday that it will pause its 2020 high school fall sports schedule until Sept. 21 and will not have regional or state championships for fall sports, just like public high schools.

The NYSCHSAA includes the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association, which features 10 fall sports.

Follow veteran Lockport sports reporter/editor John D'Onofrio onTwitter at @JohnD'Onofrio7.

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