Blue Devils have won 47 straight, but challenges await. And speaking of challenges, very real binds may test area baseball teams
The streak is at 47 games for the program, but for the team, it’s three.
We’re talking about Victor boys lacrosse, of course, which has opened this season as winners in three straight games with what essentially is a new team. The victories fit very nicely into a winning streak that hasn’t seen the Blue Devils lose a game since the June 4, 2014 state semifinal against Jamesville-DeWitt.
But as the 2017 season unfolds for this program, there are no shortage of questions. And, most likely, doubters.
The biggest question is how the Blue Devils will respond to losing 18 players from last year’s Class A state champion to graduation. With those departed 18 went 287 of the 344 goals Victor scored last year. A large portion of the close defense is gone, too, so the questions are somewhat warranted.
But a 3-0 start in which the Blue Devils have outscored opponents 47-16 offers your answer.
Of course, there are tougher tests to come. There’s a brutal stretch from April 20-27 that includes a home games against Loyola Academy of Illinois and Brother Rice of Michigan followed by a game at Pittsford. Then comes another three-game stretch with games against Fayetteville-Manlius, Webster Thomas and Victor.
As we’ve seen through the duration of this win streak, though, the Blue Devils thrive on challenges. It’s one of the more endearing characteristics of this program, and it’s one that has the Blue Devils ahead of almost any team it plays well before the opening faceoff.
About the streak, though, let’s have some fun and project.
The streak of 47 currently is tied for the fourth-longest in New York history. Garden City had its 47-game run end in 1987. If the Blue Devils finish this current season 22-0, that will stretch the streak to 66, which would be the third-longest in state history.
The state and national record for consecutive wins is 91 and it’s shared by West Genesee and Sewanhaka (Long Island). West Genesee’s streak ended in 1984 and Sewanhaka’s ended in 1957. So if Victor is going to break that record, it’ll do it in the fourth game of the 2019 season, meaning this year’s sophomores will be seniors.
And if that happens, the Victor players who were seniors on the 2015 team that started the streak will be on line to graduate with bachelor’s degrees that same spring.
Will it happen? Who knows. Can it happen? Of course. But the Blue Devils can’t be looking that far ahead and if there is one aspect of the game that the Victor coaches are very good at, it’s keeping the team grounded and focused.
Chances are, the only thing Victor is thinking about right now is Tuesday’s game at Hilton (6:30 p.m.).
Speaking of challenges, the 2017 baseball season is going to get really, really interesting from here on forward.
Area teams have anywhere from 16 to 18 games scheduled for the regular season and have played a one or two games so far. With rainouts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, that leaves about five weeks for the rest of the regular season (seeding meeting is on May 16), which averages out to about three games per week. And that’s going with the assumption that weather will be cooperative from here on out.
Add the new pitch-count rules for New York into the mix, and here’s where coaches are going to face challenges unlike any they’ve ever faced. In addition to any game they’re managing, they’ve got to be thinking two or three games ahead of themselves in order to balance their pitching arms.
The pitch-count rule has already cost an East High pitcher a bid for a no-hitter when he had to be pulled from the game when he reached the pitch limit last week. And in terms of weather, there are reports of some teams in the Adirondack region having to cut back on their league schedules to the point where some teams will play as few as 10 games.
So is the solution to start the season later, once the weather settles, and extend the state tournament beyond the school year? It doesn’t sound all that ridiculous when you remember that fall athletes give up two or three weeks of their summer vacations to prepare for their seasons.
But under that scenario, any kid who plays baseball and a fall sport ends up with about one month of summer vacation.
It’s not an easy issue, and we’ll see how this spring unfolds before rushing to judgement. But clearly, it’s an issue that will need to be re-visited.
Bob Chavez is sports editor at The Daily Messenger. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me @MPN_bchavez