Vigil held for four New Jersey teen football players

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Vigil held for four New Jersey teen football players

From Comcast SportsNet Monday, August 22, 2011
LINWOOD, N.J. (AP) -- As Chris Hickey thought about what she could say to comfort her daughter on the death of her schoolmates, she opened her mouth once, then twice, unable at first to put sound to words. She tried a third time, standing on the track of Mainland Regional High School Sunday night, a day after a crash on the Garden State Parkway killed four of the school's football players and injured four more. "I don't even know what to tell her," Hickey said about her daughter Lauren, a junior at the school, who was friends with two of the teens killed. "I don't even know how to make sense of it." Hickey was among more than 3,000 students, parents, teammates and community members who shared their communal grief Sunday at a vigil at the Linwood school. Standing in the mist under the same lights that typically illuminate Friday night games, mourners lit candles, hugged each other and laid flowers on the field. The eight boys, who ranged in age from 15 to 17, had been in an SUV Saturday morning on their way to meet other players at a favorite brunch spot in Mays Landing, when the driver, 17-year-old Casey Brenner of Northfield, apparently lost control as he turned a corner and approached heavy traffic. Sgt. Julian Castellanos, a state police spokesman, said the SUV overturned multiple times, ejecting two passengers. A passing car then struck one of the passengers. The four who survived had non-life-threatening injuries. At least three of the crash survivors were present at the vigil to mourn their friends, said Northfield Police Chief Robert James. Grief took many forms as students consoled each other and waited their turn to speak with the victims' families. One male student pulled off his shirt, revealing a freshly inked tattoo which said "Dean," a reference to 15-year-old Dean Khoury of Linwood, one of the players who died in the crash. Others wore white homemade T-shirts reading "my boys" and "see you on the other side." And a few sat silently on the grass of the football field, their heads bowed into their hands, seemingly oblivious to the thousands of people milling about around them. "Right when it happened, I was in total shock, I was just praying it wasn't true," said Joey Geiger, 16, a member of the football team who was not involved in the accident. "Every single play (this season) is now for them." Team members could be seen huddling with each other in their green jerseys or crying alongside fellow students. Most declined to talk to reporters. "I wish we could take it all back -- all of it," said another team member who declined to elaborate or to provide his name out of sensitivity for the other players. State police said Sunday the investigation was ongoing. They did not release details about the speed of the SUV before the crash or whether the students were wearing seatbelts. Under New Jersey law, drivers under 18 generally are not allowed to carry more than one passenger unless a parent or guardian is in the vehicle. At the center of the mass that swarmed the field after brief comments by school leaders was a set of photographs of the four who died in the crash: Khoury, Brenner, and 16-year-olds Edgar Bozzi of Somers Point and Nicholas Conner of Northfield. In the photos, the players stand against a white wall in team jerseys, with overlapped hands resting at their waist and determined looks on their faces. Earlier Sunday, school superintendent Thomas Baruffi said the four players who died were good students, good athletes and well-liked. He said he has had students die before, but never multiple deaths at the same time. "They're always tragic," he said. "You know there's nothing you can say or do that's enough." The injured students included Linwood residents Jacob Smith and Kenneth Randall, both 15, and Northfield residents Kyle Beattie and Alex Denafo, both 16. The first game of the season for the Mustangs, who have won six state championships, is scheduled for Sept. 9 -- three days before the start of the school year for Mainland's 1,600 students.

Graveman takes to leadership role while Gray is sidelined

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Graveman takes to leadership role while Gray is sidelined

MESA, Ariz. — Kendall Graveman feels comfortable with the leadership role that comes with being the A’s Opening Night starter, but he pointed out how all the starters will carry the load together.

“I told BoMel this morning when he told me, I said ‘I’m the No. 1 starter for Opening Night, but then whoever is the second guy is the No. 1 starter for us the next night,’ and that’s the way we have to go about it to be successful,” Graveman said Thursday afternoon.

That’s a message that Graveman says he’s already trying to spread to Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton, the starters who will follow him in the rotation. Oakland’s final two rotation spots are up for grabs.

With Sonny Gray sidelined by injury for what’s expected to be most of April, Graveman — with all of 52 major league starts under his belt — becomes the veteran leader of the A’s staff in the interim. Manager Bob Melvin gave Graveman the official word Thursday morning that he would take the ball April 3 against the Angels at the Coliseum. But shortly after Gray went down with a strained lat muscle March 7, Melvin approached Graveman about being his likely Opening Night guy.

It’s a natural fit. Graveman went 10-11 with a 4.11 ERA last season, and while those aren’t eye-catching numbers, they don’t tell the story of how valuable he was as the A’s lost starter after starter to injury.

Graveman has improved his mental preparation and his physical conditioning since coming over from Toronto in the Josh Donaldson trade. He’s become a meticulous studier to get ready for his starts. He’s picked the brain of veterans such as Gray and Barry Zito, who he played alongside with Triple-A Nashville for part of 2015.

And, not to be overlooked, his stuff and pitch arsenal have improved since he first arrived to the A’s. Though he’s a sinkerballer who relies more on location than velocity, the A’s clocked Graveman as high as 98 miles per hour on the radar gun in his last start.

“He’s kind of on a mission to be one of those guys that pitches at top of the rotation for many years to come,” Melvin said.

Kevin Durant makes strides at Warriors practice: 'It's a good sign'

Kevin Durant makes strides at Warriors practice: 'It's a good sign'

Kevin Durant has been making steady progress in his rehab.

And on Thursday, he took another step forward.

"Did a little bit more today. Went through some 5-on-0 stuff, some lateral movement," Steve Kerr told reporters after practice. "Seems like he makes a knew stride each day. It's a good sign, but the four-week mark is a week from now so that's really when we'll have our first real update."

Durant sprained the MCL in his left knee and sustained a tibial bone bruise on Feb. 28 in Washington.

The following day, the Warriors announced that he would be reevaluated in four weeks.

Kerr also said that Durant will travel on Golden State's road trip to Houston and San Antonio next week.

More to come...