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Carthage Central High School multi-sport athlete makes program history

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When Josh Demko received the opening kickoff at his own 26-yard line, he took off. He beat four opposing defenders, setting himself up for a straight shot down the sideline for a 74-yard kick return.

Demko’s kick return propelled Carthage Central High School toward a 55-7 victory over Auburn High School in the sectional title game at the Carrier Dome, helping the Comets to the third seed in the NYSPHSAA Class A state tournament. For Demko, the 2019 moment was his favorite in a Carthage uniform.

“We were all really close, and we all believed in each other,” Demko said.

Carthage advanced to its first state championship game appearance in program history that year, later losing to Cornwall Central High School 30-27. Demko scored two of Carthage’s four touchdowns during the state championship, totaling 89 yards in the title game.

Along with starring for Carthage’s football team as a wide receiver and safety, Demko co-captains the school’s basketball team and was the lacrosse team’s leading-scorer his sophomore year. Demko brings an unmatched competitiveness when he’s locked into a game, said Jason Coffman, Demko’s stepfather and his coach since fifth grade.

At 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, Demko refers to himself as an “animal” on the field, using his strength and speed in every sport he plays. He participated in almost any sport he could growing up and usually stood out against younger competition.

“He was always naturally strong and he could always run,” Coffman said. “I’ve watched him grow into a really nice athlete.”

Coffman also coaches Demko’s club lacrosse team, the Orange Crush. The Crush gave Demko the opportunity to participate in numerous high-profile showcases and tournaments, which garnered interest from college coaches.

He was eligible to be officially recruited and receive offers starting Sept. 1 of his junior year, a day during which Demko received over 10 phone calls and emails from NCAA coaches.

“It was a great feeling but also pretty overwhelming,” Demko said.

Demko verbally committed in early March to Fairfield University in Connecticut on a full-ride scholarship. He developed a close relationship with the Fairfield coaches who recruited him, and said he felt like “their man.”

Fairfield’s head lacrosse coach, Andrew Baxter, sees Demko as a perfect fit for his program and the university. Demko will be one of 14 incoming freshmen next season, but Baxter expects him to be able to compete for minutes early on.

“What attracted me to Josh was his athleticism and his transition game,” Baxter said. “He is fluid in his movements and could play any position. He’s got an edge to him, that’s one of the things that D-I coaches are looking for.”

Both Coffman and Demko were swayed toward Fairfield when Baxter, along with two assistants, sat through one of Carthage’s football practices ahead of a state tournament game in mid-November. After the 15-degree practice, the Fairfield staff took Demko and Coffman to dinner.

NYSPHSAA regulations have delayed the start of the football season to March 1 and lacrosse season to April 19, meaning Demko will work individually to stay in shape.

But regardless of his senior football season, Demko hopes to carry on Carthage’s strong lacrosse tradition, which produced Syracuse All-American Casey Powell, at Fairfield.

“I want to make them proud,” Demko said.

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Fall Sport Senior Spotlight: Campbell Harris

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Fall Sport Senior Spotlight: Campbell Harris
21 Campbell Harris, C
6-5, 210, Sr., Yucaipa, Calif. (Yucaipa High School)
 
In his own words: This past summer, I took powered flight. It was awesome experience to finally view the Academy and Colorado from above the clouds. On my last of four flights, I got a chance to fly with 2013 grad and former water polo player Auggie Arcidiacono. After graduation, the most important thing that I want to do, is to take care of airmen. Over my years at the Academy, I have gained valuable experience of what it means to be an outstanding leader. I have watched it form in the pool and out of it. So, if I am flying in the air with a team or on the ground with one, my primary goal is to take care of airmen and influence them to be the best they can be. Going through this COVID age, it is important to be empathetic, and treat each other with dignity and respect. I think it is important to understand that this is a HUGE learning experience for all of us. With everything that has happened since March, to what will happen for the rest of year, we cannot be content with keeping our heads down. We need to keep our heads high and be able to embrace the situation with open arms and be willing to learn every step of the way.
 
 
2019: Team MVP … second-team all-WWPA … played in all 28 games and tied for the team lead with 53 goals … led the team with 125 shots … third on the team with 57 points … 47 drawn exclusions, nine steals and four field blocks on the season … tied his career high of five goals twice during the season (Whittier and Loyola Marymount) … four or more points in a game five times … five goals and seven points in two WWPA tournament games as the Falcons posted a 1-1 record.
 
2018: Played in all 27 games and was sixth on the team with 39 points … tied for third on the team with 38 goals … third on the team with 11 drawn exclusions … four steals and five field blocks on the season … career-best five goals against Santa Clara … four goals against Fresno Pacific and Pomona-Pitzter … three or more goals in five games … career-best six points against Santa Clara.
 
2017: Played in 17 games and had two goals and three assists for five points … first career goal came against Cal Lutheran … career-high two assists, and two points, against Claremont Mudd Scripps.
 
High School: Lettered four years in both water polo and swimming … Citrus Belt League co-MVP and first-team all-league as a junior and senior … second-team all CIF as a junior and senior … scored 125 goals as a junior and 130 as a senior … played for the Yucaipa water polo club team.
 
Personal: Son of  Timothy and Jill Harris … member of cadet squadron 12 … major if geoscience … father is a 1986 USAFA graduate and is retired from the Air Force… he was a four-year letterman at goalie and was captain and MVP of the 1985 team … father is an instructor pilot for United Airlines … his father was in the first class recruited by former Falcon coach Jeff Heidmous … Campbell was in the final class recruited by Heidmous … mother is an economics professor at the Academy … long-term goal is to be a pilot … on the Athletic’s List … is the assistant communications flight commander in his squadron … this past summer, completed the powered flight program … his flight instructor was former water polo player, and 2013 USAFA grad, Augie Arcidiacono … favorite athlete to follow on social media is LeBron James … if he could have dinner with any three people, it would be J.K. Simmons, Bruce Willis and Robert Williams … best advice he ever received was “Fail Early, Fail Often” … favorite musical groups are Foo Fighters, U2 and Rush … favorite possession is his drum set … if he had a walk-up song, it would be Tom Sawyer by Rush … something not many people know about him is that he is ranked nationally in Rock Band 3 … greatest individual moment in sports was scoring 12 goals in high school against his school’s rival … one word to describe himself is determined … favorite sport other than water polo is volleyball … credits his father, Matt Carpenter and Kevin Womack as having the greatest influences on his sports career … hobbies are music, video games, bowling and drawing … started playing water polo at the age of 12.
 
From Head Coach Ryan Brown: Campbell has been our anchor in the in center of our front court offense and will continue that this season.  Also, he provides us with a large target in the extra-man (6 on 5) situations.  We look for Campbell to end his career here as a great leader and strong force for our offense this season.
 
 



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College Football Weekend Preview: Maybe Watch Another Sport

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As the college sports world is in chaos, with some teams playing, some dropping out and the Big Ten suddenly changing its mind about playing football this fall, it might get overlooked that there is another slate of games this weekend.

And, partly because of the confusion and cancellations, that slate of games is absolutely terrible.

A fan hoping to forget the state of the world for a while and enjoy some high quality football is going to be at a severe loss this Saturday. Is there even one game worth watching? Let’s look at the lineup.

Only two members of The Associated Press Top 10 are in action this weekend, and neither game seems likely to be an edge-of-the-seat contest.

No. 7 Notre Dame is usually a popular team to root for or against, but how much uncertainty will there be this week against South Florida, a 25-point underdog that finished 4-8 last year?

At least No. 1 Clemson is playing … against The Citadel. Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne and company are usually exciting to watch, but their F.C.S. opponent is playing the second of what is expected to be only a four-game schedule. Clemson is a 45-point favorite, and frankly plenty of people will line up to bet them anyway.

Willing to dip a little out of the top 10? No. 11 Oklahoma State and their speedy running back Chuba Hubbard are 23-point favorites over Tulsa. And No. 13 Cincinnati is a 33-point favorite over Austin Peay. Don’t expect surprises.

“College GameDay” has chosen to travel to No. 18 Louisville and feature its game against No. 17 Miami. It’s the only game between ranked teams this week, so there’s that. But a closer look shows it might be far from a classic. While Louisville was a respectable 8-5 last season, finishing three games behind Clemson in their A.C.C. division, Miami was 6-7, its season culminating in a 14-0 loss to Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl.

No. 14 Central Florida against Georgia Tech isn’t an awful matchup. Central Florida is a few years removed from when it had actual national title aspirations, but it still has a 35-4 record over the last three seasons. Georgia Tech is coming off a bad year, but it opened the season with a 16-13 victory over Florida State as a 13-point underdog.

Because Big Ten and Pac-12 teams are not currently ranked by the A.P., quite a few lesser lights suddenly are considered “top 25” teams. Though No. 19 Louisiana-Lafayette just defeated Iowa State, its game this week against Georgia State doesn’t set the pulse racing, nor does No. 24 Appalachian State against Marshall.

There aren’t any, although a few A.C.C. games are being played. Aside from Miami-Louisville, there’s No. 25 Pitt against Syracuse and Wake Forest-North Carolina State. Not even an A.C.C. fanatic is canceling other plans for those.

Baylor had a problem. Its game against Louisiana Tech had been canceled after an outbreak among Tech players. That left it with no warm-up games before Big 12 play began.

Houston had the same problem. An outbreak at Memphis had caused a postponement of their game this week.

So after some frantic calls and negotiations, Baylor and Houston agreed to face off on Saturday. The deal took days, rather than weeks, to arrange, and was made barely a week before the game, an increasingly common timeline in these pandemic days.

And this shotgun marriage may turn out to be the most intriguing game of the day.

Baylor was 11-2 last year before losing to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, and again looks like a top-five team in the Big 12.

Baylor doesn’t always schedule tough nonconference opponents, to say the least. Last year its games were against Stephen F. Austin, Texas-San Antonio and Rice, and Baylor beat them by an average of 32 points.

But Baylor may have stumbled into a real game this week. Houston was only 4-8 last year, but that was after essentially giving up on the season and allowing many top players to redshirt after a slow start.

Baylor lost Coach Matt Rhule to the Carolina Panthers and may have the growing pains of dealing with a new system and staff.

Given all that, Houston is only a 4½-point underdog, meaning a close game is more than possible. And there should be scoring. Houston’s Air Raid offense tends to put points on the board, and its defense can give them up. The over/under for the game is 63.

Maybe there’s something to watch on Saturday after all.

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State High fall contact sports can play depending on in-person learning

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The State College Area School District made its ruling on fall sports competition Thursday night.

The Little Lions will have some form of fall sports, but whether a student can play might depend on a number of factors.

The SCASD school boards approved two different plans for fall sports: one for non-contact sports and one for contact sports.

Non-contact sports (cross country, golf and tennis) can participate in fall competition whether the district is doing in-person learning or not.

Contact sports (football, field hockey, soccer and volleyball) can participate in fall sports competitions only if the school district is participating in in-person learning. If the district is doing remote learning, contact sports can only practice and conduct inter-squad scrimmages.

The school board approved the plan for contact sports by a 7-2 vote. You can see the full school board meeting here. The district is currently in its second week of remote learning.

You can review the district’s full health and safety plan here.

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