Renewals of Western New York's traditional football rivalries add to the flavor of the final week of the regular season in the Section VI Federation.
Two of the area's most intense games will be staged Friday night, when Depew plays at Lancaster in a 7:30 kickoff and North Tonawanda travels to Tonawanda in a 6 p.m. start at Clint Small Stadium.
A standing-room only crowd of 6,000 is expected to witness the 69th meeting between Lancaster and Depew. The Redskins hold a 37-25-6 lead in the series that began in 1919. Both teams are 3-4 this year.
On the spirit of the rivalry, retired coach Joe Foyle (1961-1985) once said: "I've had kids hurt in the beginning of the year who kept coming to practice because the doctor said might be able to play in the game against Depew."
The North Tonawanda-Tonawanda rivalry is the third oldest in Western New York, dating to 1904. Football was popularized in North Tonawanda in 1895. In its infancy, the high school team was able to purchase uniforms consisting of canvas pants and jersey vests for $1.40 each.
North Tonawanda, which is 4-3 and has already clinched a Class AA playoff berth, leads the series, 50-26-10. Tonawanda (5-2) is still holding out hope of a Class B playoff slot.
Kenmore East (3-4) hosts this year's "Battle of Kenmore," on Saturday at 2 p.m. West (5-2) holds a 21-14 lead in the series that began in 1959, and has won the last 11 meetings.
West Seneca East (0-7) is the site of this year's game against West Seneca West (4-3) on Saturday. The first contest was played in 1969.
Dunkirk (1-6) hosts Fredonia (0-7) on Saturday in WNY's second oldest rivalry (1901). The oldest rivalry in WNY is Bradford-Olean, which began in 1893. This year's game was played on the season-opener, Sept. 7, with Olean winning, 19-0.
Football playoffs near
With one week remaining in the regular season, the playoff picture is becoming clearer. Twenty teams will qualify for postseason. The winners of the 10 first-round games will be paired in five games at Rich Stadium on Nov. 8-9.
According to Chuck Funke, the Section VI football chairman, the following teams have qualified:
Class AA: Orchard Park, Jamestown, North Tonawanda and Kenmore West.
Class A: Sweet Home, Williamsville North, Lake Shore and Niagara-Wheatfield.
In Class B, Springville and Lackawanna are in. Tonawanda is mathematically alive, but needs Albion and Alden to both lose this weekend and create a three-way tie. Otherwise, Alden and Albion are in.
In Class C, three of the four playoffs spots are still to be decided. Salamanca is the only lock. That leaves eight teams chasing the last three spots. Two of those spots will be taken by the champions of Division VI and VII. Still alive are: Akron, East Aurora, Eden, Falconer, Gowanda, Portville, Southwestern and Wilson.
Class D will be represented by three teams from Division VIII and one from Division IX. The qualifiers are: Maple Grove, Randolph, Frewsburg and Hinsdale.
Fund-raiser this weekend
A combined 90 football teams from Section VI, the Msgr. Martin Association, the Harvard Cup and Nichols will host a fund-raiser for the Kids Escaping Drugs Campaign on Friday and Saturday.
The fund-raiser will take place at the host schools of the 45 games being played. Boosters, cheerleaders, teachers and members of the Jim Kelly Football Camp will be holding donation buckets at entrance gates.
All proceeds will benefit the Kids Escaping Drugs Campaign and Stepping Stones on the Renaissance House Campus. Stepping Stones is a 16-bed after-care facility for chemically dependent Western New York adolescents who have completed treatment at the Renaissance House.
Boys volleyball update
A motivated Canisius team beat St. Joe's to win the Msgr. Martin Association title, and then won a four-team playoff to capture the overall crown.
The Crusaders dedicated the season to Sharon McDermid, the mother of backup setter Colin McDermid, who died in September. In the championship game against St. Francis, McDermid came off the bench in the third game and helped his team to a 10-15, 10-15, 15-12, 15-13, 15-11 victory.
"They all kind of rallied around him," coach Tom Wieslo said.
Senior Darren Fenn had 26 kills and six blocks while senior Steve Whitehead added 18 kills and eight blocks.
Orchard Park won the 24th annual Sweet Home tournament with a 15-13, 9-15, 15-4 win over Kenmore West. The MVP of the eight-team tournament was Orchard Park senior setter Jay Gaiser. Teammates Pete Fabbro and Brendan Heavey made the all-tournament team.
Making the team from Kenmore West were: Mike Hayward, Doug Gold and Casey Neyerlin. John Higgins and Ryan Kus made the team from Sweet Home and Paul Olzak was a representative from West Seneca East.
Lockport will be hosting a varsity and junior varsity wrestling tournament Jan. 17-18. For more information, contact Pat Burke at 439-6420 . . . Amherst is looking for a boys junior varsity and a boys junior varsity lacrosse coach. Contact Nancy Riccio at 836-3000, ext. 5273 . . . The St. Francis junior varsity basketball team is looking for games for the upcoming season. Contact Leonard Coppola at 879-5158.