Paul DeLuca has stepped down as Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s varsity baseball coach after a six-year run in which he led the Spartans to their only state championship, and helped mold several Division I players.
DeLuca spent 16 years in the BH-BL program, serving as a varsity assistant and junior varsity coach before guiding the Spartans to five Section II tournament appearances over the last six campaigns.
“He motivated the kids,” Burnt Hills athletic director Bob McGuire said of the 2011 New York State Sportswriters Association Class A Coach of the Year. “He got a lot out of the kids.”
DeLuca’s players went the distance just over a year ago with their surge to the state Class A title.
After a 10-10 regular season showing against mostly Class AA teams, the Spartans rattled off seven postseason wins to gain the New York crown.
“We played defense. We hit the long ball. We had speed. We didn’t have a weak link,” said DeLuca, whose team outscored its four state tournament opponents, 34-4. “It was a great group.”
That team was anchored by Bret Dennis and Keaton Flint, a pair of all-state first-teamers who went on to Sacred Heart and St. John’s, respectively. They’ll be joined next year by recent BH-BL graduates Jayson Sullivan (Sacred Heart) and Rob Knightes (St. John’s).
Mike Fischer, a 2010 BH-BL grad, plays baseball at Columbia University. DeLuca’s first two varsity teams included 2007 graduate Dave Filak, who went to SUNY-Oneonta and is in the Atlanta Braves organization, and 2008 grad Dave Fischer, who attended Connecticut and is in the Washington Nationals’ system.
“Starting with our youth program and moving along, I think we turned it around the last few years, in terms of talent,” said DeLuca. “I had seven or eight Division I kids, and two of them are in pro ball.
“A couple more may be headed that way,” he added. “Dan Maynard has the ability to be one of the best if he stays on track, which I think he will.”
Maynard, a catcher coming off a superb freshman season, was among 10 underclassmen on the BH-BL roster this past season. They’ll be playing for Rob Duell, who moves from assistant coach to the head position.
“Rob will do a great job. He had a great mentor,” said McGuire. “We’re comfortable with him, and the kids like him.”
Duell, who pitched for Niskayuna and Sacred Heart, served the last four years as DeLuca’s first base coach, and directed the BH-BL junior varsity for one season before.
“I’m leaving him in a pretty good place. I’d hate to leave with the cupboard bare,” DeLuca said. “We’ve got a good group of six or seven guys that can continue winning.”
Burnt Hills posted double-digit wins in three of DeLuca’s six seasons, including 13 in 2010 when the Spartans made it to the sectional semifinals. Both his first and last varsity teams recorded nine victories.
“You get to a point where it’s time, and you know it,” said DeLuca, a security guard at Burnt Hills and retired Schenectady Police Department detective. “It’s time to pull up a chair on the other side of the fence.”
Winkler makes final
Rudy Winkler of Averill Park placed 11th in the 6k hammer throw finals Saturday at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona.
The senior-to-be qualified for the finals Friday with a throw of 240 feet, one inch, before uncorking a 227-6 Saturday. Qatar’s Ashraf Amgad Elseify won the title with a world-junior-record performance of 280-9.
Winkler won the USATF Junior Nationals last month in Indiana with a throw of 232-1. In May at the Army Strong Throwing Series, he set a personal best with a throw of 251-1 with the 12-pound hammer, which ranks No. 4 on the all-time United States list for high schoolers.
Guilderland guard Cameron Dobbs and Albany forward Wesley Pluvoise-Phillip will continue their basketball careers at 2012 NCAA Division I tournament participant Mississippi Valley State.
Dobbs was selected the Suburban Council Player of the Year and earned a spot on the Gazette All-Area first team after averaging 21.9 points and leading Guilderland to the South Division title.
Shenendehowa attackman Mike Jenkins and Ballston Spa defender Jordan Davis are both headed to Le Moyne College to play lacrosse. Both seniors received All-America recognition this year.
Heavily recruited Troy weights star Caysie Capano has opted for Binghamton over Iona, St. John’s and the University at Albany.
Capano won both the shot put and discus titles at Niskayuna’s Warrior Classic, the Schenectady Invitational and the Eddy Meet, as well as at the Big 10 and Section II Class A championships.
Three make fab 50
Niskayuna earned the No. 18 position in the ESPNHS Powerade Fab 50 final national rankings for boys’ lacrosse.
Niskayuna (20-2) averaged 17.5 goals per game and reached the state Class A semifinals before losing to eventual champ West Islip (22-1). West Islip is ranked No. 9 in the Fab 50, and Massachusetts Division I champ Duxbury (22-2), the other team that beat Niskayuna, is ranked No. 14.
New York has 12 teams in the girls’ Fab 50, including No. 22 Shaker (17-2) and No. 25 Guilderland (18-1). Shaker beat Guilderland for its first Section II Class A title.