This year's Tonawanda at North Tonawanda football game is more than just a contest between longtime rivals. Adding flavor to Saturday's 88th meeting is the fact both teams are ranked locally and in the state, division champions and playoff-bound.
The Division I champion Lumberjacks (6-1), who lead the series, 50-27-10, are ranked No. 11 in the state in Class AA and No. 5 in Western New York. The undefeated Division III champion Warriors (7-0), who have realized a rebirth under coach Joe Shifflet, are No. 9 in the state in Class A and No. 3 in The News large school poll.
The rivalry, the third-oldest in Western New York, dates to 1904. The T-NT game is one of several traditional rivalries that will be played this weekend as the Section VI regular season comes to a close.
On tap Friday is the 70th meeting between Lancaster and Depew. The Wildcats (5-2) are hoping to end a four-year losing streak against the Redskins (1-6). Lancaster holds a 38-25-6 lead in the series, which began in 1919. At halftime, the Wildcats will recognize the 25th anniversary of their 1972 undefeated team.
The 105th meeting between Dunkirk and Fredonia kicks off Friday at Fredonia (3-4). The Marauders (3-4) lead the series, which started in 1901, 60-33-11. Dunkirk's Travis Maxwell is coming off a game in which he rushed for 454 yards on 35 carries against Olean.
In the "Battle of the Kenmore," Kenmore East plays Kenmore West at Crosby Field on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Blue Devils (3-4) are looking to extend their winning streak to 13 games over the Bulldogs (0-7). West holds a 22-14 lead in the series, which began in 1959.
In their 82nd meeting, Albion (5-2) looks to make it seven wins in a row over Medina (6-1). The Purple Eagles lead the series, 40-37-4. Albion quarterback Pete Smith is coming off Western New York's first 300-yard passing game of the season. Smith completed 16 of 24 passes for 302 yards in last weekend's 48-20 victory over Maryvale.
Medina is ranked No. 11 in the state in Class B. Mustang running back Lionel Rhim is questionable after suffering a severe ankle sprain last week against Alden.
West Seneca West (4-3) hosts West Seneca East (2-5) in this year's 28th meeting on Saturday. The Indians won last year, 24-0.
Falconer (4-3) is at Southwestern (4-3) in a renewal of their series, which began in 1927. The Falcons have won the last six contests and lead the rivalry, 34-27-10.
In a series that dates back to the 1950s, Frontier (2-5) is at Hamburg (2-5) on Saturday. Records on the series were not available.
In their 22nd meeting, Williamsville North (2-5) plays Williamsville East (4-3) at District Field at Williamsville South at 7 p.m. on Friday.
In a battle of state-ranked teams, Allegany/Limestone (7-0) puts its undefeated record on the line against Portville (6-1). The game between the Gators (No. 12 in Class C) and the Panthers (No. 5 in Class C) is also for the Division VII title. The rivalry started in 1930.
Cole going for rushing record
Cardinal O'Hara running back Major Cole is 101 yards away from becoming the career rushing leader in Western New York.
The current record of 4,553 yards is held by David Schmidli, a 1996 Wilson graduate, currently a redshirt freshman at UB.
Ironically, Cole and his O'Hara teammates host Wilson on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Cole amassed most of his yardage in three seasons at Turner/Carroll before transferring to O'Hara for his senior season. He enters Saturday's contest with 1,196 yards and 17 touchdowns in seven games.
Tigers win cross county titles
Timon/St. Jude defeated St. Joe's for the first time in a dual meet since 1982 to complete a 5-0 season and win its first Msgr. Martin Association cross country title in more than 20 years.
On Wednesday, the Tigers won the All-Catholic meet for the first time since 1969. Medalist Dan O'Neill (Timon/St. Jude) covered the 3.2-mile course at Delaware Park in 17:42.
Also considered All-Catholic for finishing in the top five were: John Robida (St. Joe's), Patrick Mahaney (Canisius), Marc Coyack (TSJ) and Kevin Hoak (St. Francis).
Kenmores induct Class of '97
Kenmore East will be inducting its fourth Hall of Fame class and Kenmore West will be inducting its third on Saturday at the Holiday Inn on Grand Island at 5:45 p.m.
The inductees will also be recognized at Saturday's East vs. West game, beginning at 2 p.m.
The Kenmore East inductees are: Sharie Abramson, Terry Butler, Cindy Coburn-Carroll, Betty Dimmick, Richard Fiden Jr., Chad Schlee, Steven Trusso and Jack Oelkers.
From Kenmore West will be: Kevin Ahrens, Ray Frazier, Robert Mendola, LeRoy "Bud" Pikin, Walter Stevens, Deborah Uhlman, James Ulrich and Judy Weigand.
Canisius recognizes alumni
Canisius will induct seven members into its Sports Hall of Fame tonight in the school's auditorium. The Class of 1997 includes Andrew Meaney (Class of 1943), James McCarthy (1953), Richard Wachter (1962), Dennis McCleary (1970), William Koessler (1974), David Zygaj (1981) and Marcus Romanowski (1985).
The John Barnes Award, which memorializes the 42-year career of the legendary Crusaders coach, will be presented to Richard Grimm III (1979).