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Saturday's game between Niagara-Wheatfield and Sweet Home is not at Rich Stadium, but that's not to say their next meeting won't be.

The teams, which met in last year's Class A title game at Rich, face each other in a regular season rematch Saturday at Sweet Home at 2 p.m. Niagara-Wheatfield won last year's Sectional game, 14-10.

The Panthers (4-0 overall, 3-0 in the league) are the No. 1-ranked large school in The Buffalo News poll. the Falcons (4-0, 3-0) are No. 2. In the Class A state poll, Sweet Home is No. 2 while Niagara-Wheatfield is No. 4.

"There's a lot riding on it, we don't say too much," Sweet Home coach John Faller said. "The emotion and stuff will all come out Saturday afternoon."

Senior running back Durrell Hatch is the Panthers' top rusher with 360 yards in three games. Hatch is healthy after missing the LaSalle game with a bruised back.

Junior linebacker Keith O'Neil and senior defensive tackle Byron McKinney are the top two tacklers.

The Falcons key a lot off defensive end/tight end Frank Pavicich, last year's News Player of the Year. They're also solid at quarterback with junior Jason Herman. Rashad Evans and Nick Condino share ball-carrying duties. Inside linebacker Larry James is part of a defense that has yielded just 14 points in four games.

"We're up and I'm sure they're going to be up. This is basically a championship game," said Niagara-Wheatfield coach Ace Cacciatore. "Sweet Home probably has the best offense in Section VI. We're putting a little bit more into our preparation on defense because this is such an important game. We're kind of the underdogs because they're ranked No. 1."

Watch out Frannies

The St. Francis football team travels to Cleveland on Saturday to play national power St. Ignatius.

A crowd of at least 8,000 is expected for the game scheduled for 7 p.m. on the turf field at Lakewood Stadium, home of the Wildcats.

St. Ignatius (5-0) is ranked No. 4 in the country this week by USA Today. The team is led by senior quarterback Dave Ragone. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound left-hander is 74 of 118 passing for 1,289 yards and 11 touchdowns in five games.

St. Ignatius is an all-boys school of 1,340 in downtown Cleveland. The Wildcats placed seven players in NCAA Division I-A programs last year. They were national champions in 1993 and 1995.

St. Francis is 3-1.

St. Mary's coach retires

Frank Podsiadlo has retired from St. Mary's School for the Deaf, ending a 32-year career as a coach and teacher.

Podsiadlo coached basketball for 22 years, cross country for 30 years and was an assistant track and field coach during his entire stay. Jim Carmody, a 1997 graduate of Canisius College, has replaced Podsiadlo.

St. Mary's athletic director Lou Pennella has been friends with Podsiadlo since they graduated from Cheektowaga High School.

"He's been a terrific teacher, an outstanding coach and a great friend," said Pennella. "The thing we're going to miss the most is his dedication and sense of humor. He played a lot of tricks on former coaches and opposing coaches."

The St. Mary's staff is planning a dinner/roast in his honor on Oct. 24 at the Hearthstone Manor in Depew.

Melonic sets course record

East Aurora cross country standout Peggy Melonic set a course record at Eden on Tuesday, running 3.1 miles in 18:38. Lake Shore's Stacey Strothmann set the previous record of 19:52 in 1991.

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