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Getting to the Harvard Cup championship game hasn't been a problem for Burgard. Winning has.

The Bulldogs are 0-5-2 in the traditional Thanksgiving day contest. They've combined for just three touchdowns in those games and have been shut out four times.

Burgard, led by senior running back B.J. Coleman, looks to reverse its fortune on Thursday when it faces undefeated McKinley (10-0) in the 97th Harvard Cup championship game at 11 a.m. at All High Stadium.

"I'm tired of seeing my kids crying on the bus, I want to win one," said Ron Pugh, Burgard's coach since 1981. "This is really important to us. We've won a lot of games in the '90s, we just haven't won a championship."

To win Pugh will need a big game from Coleman, who has rushed for 1,591 yard on 164 carries and 23 touchdowns.

Burgard's previous title game appearances were in 1992, '91, '90, '87, '60, '46 and '42. Burgard shared the title in 1960 following a 0-0 tie with Riverside. In 1942, Burgard and McKinley tied, 6-6, and agreed to share the Cup on a six-month-each basis.

The 1942 game was billed as the first meeting between two vocational schools, and was played before 7,288 on Thanksgiving. McKinley fullback Tony Bolognese scored on a 1-yard run while Burgard halfback Stan Markiewicz answered with a 1-yard run.

The Bulldogs (8-2) enter this year's game as underdogs. They are facing a McKinley team that is ranked No. 9 among Class A schools in the state and No. 7 in The Buffalo News large school poll. Plus, McKinley, with 947 students, has more than double the enrollment of Burgard (446).

Traditionally, the Macks have played big in Harvard Cup games, winning or sharing nine titles, including three of the last five. McKinley's last victory came in 1995 in coach Don Chelf's last year. A win would give McKinley its first undefeated season since Chelf directed the 1989 team to a 9-0 record.

"I understand the Macks are back in it," Chelf said on Tuesday from his retirement home in Spring Hill, Fla. "Everyone's been telling me they have a real good team this year."

After struggling to a 2-7 record last year, the Macks hardly looked like a team that was a year away from competing for the Harvard Cup.

"We led late in the fourth quarter in all of those games except one," McKinley coach Jerry Johnson said. "We had a young team and couldn't hold a lead. We returned most of those players from last year."

Johnson said his team boasts overall team speed led by senior split end Marcus McClam and senior flanker Nick Sullivan, both of whom have 4.3 speed. "No one in the league can cover them," he said.

Junior cornerback Lemeil Norman is among the best athletes on the team and defensive tackles Donald Draine and Darrale Massey have helped keep opponents to an average of 4.6 points per game.

Senior running back Clarence Thomas has 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns. He scored twice in week eight of the regular season, when McKinley wrapped up the regular season title beating Burgard, 26-14.

A crowd of 4,000 is expected, many of whom will be alumni and former football players from past Harvard Cups. Among them should be Jim Hilburger, a lineman on McKinley's undefeated teams in 1946, 1945 and 1944.

"We were the smallest school and the poorest school," said Hilburger, 70, who now lives in Colden. "We used to share helmets. You'd come off the field and hand your helmet to the guy coming in for you."

The Macks, members of the Buffalo Public Schools, would join St. Joe's (10-0) of the Msgr. Martin Association, as Western New York teams who finished the 1998 season undefeated. Lackawanna (12-0) of the Section VI Federation would join them with a win on Sunday in the state finals.

Flashback 40 years ago: A trick play added to Bennett's playbook the week of the game enabled the Tigers to beat Riverside, 6-0, before 7,000 at All High Stadium. Bennett scored on a tackle-eligible play from the 7-yard line when quarterback Don Gilbert found tackle Les Rosen alone at the 2-yard line. Rosen initially juggled the ball before stepping into the end zone.

30 years ago: Using a play recommended to him during a timeout by one of his players, Bennett coach Nick Mogavero led his team to a 6-0 victory over Riverside. Senior Owen Tober convinced Magavero he could beat his man on a "sprint-out pass play," so that's what was called on the first play of the second quarter. Quarterback David White, handling the ball on this rainy day, faked a handoff to Tober, then to halfback Larry Drennen, before calmly lofting a pass to Tober for a 20-yard touchdown.

20 years ago: Grover Cleveland capped an 8-0 season with a 14-8 decision over Seneca to win the 75th annual game played on a rainy, 30-degree afternoon at All High Stadium. Running out of the T formation behind a veteran line, senior running back Kevin Bennett scored both touchdowns for the Presidents, from 5 and 1 yards.

1997--Hutch-Tech 18, South Park 10
1996--South Park 30, Kensington 8
1995--McKinley 20, Riverside 8
1994--McKinley 6, Riverside 6
1993--McKinley 12, Riverside 6
1994--Kensington 6, McKinley 6
1993--South Park 20, Kensington 0
1992--South Park 18, Burgard 0
1991--Grover Cleveland 14, Burgard 6
1990--Grover Cleveland 26, Burgard 0
1989--McKinley 14, Bennett 0
1988--South Park 8, Hutch-Tech 6
1987--Grover Cleveland 20, Burgard 6
1986--Seneca 15, Grover Cleveland 14
1985--Grover Cleveland 0, Bennett 0
1984--Grover Cleveland 8, Bennett 0
1983--Hutch-Tech 15, Lafayette 0
1982--Grover Cleveland 6, Hutch-Tech 0
1981--Grover Cleve. 18, Hutch-Tech 16
1980--Grover Cleveland 18, Seneca 6
1979--Seneca 38, Grover Cleveland 14
1978--Grover Cleveland 14, Seneca 8
1977--Seneca 14, Lafayette 6
1976--East 6, Lafayette 6
1975--Grover Cleve. 14, Hutch-Tech 12
1974--Grover Cleveland 12, Seneca 10
1973--Grover Cleveland 12, East 6
1972--Riverside 26, East 0
1971--Seneca 16, Lafayette 6
1970--Seneca 6, Grover Cleveland 0
1969--Seneca 14, Riverside 12
1968--Bennett 6, Riverside 0
1967--Hutch-Tech 13, Riverside 0
1966--Riverside 32, Technical 6
1965--Riverside 27, Technical 7
1964--Riverside 12, Bennett 6
1963--Riverside 19, Technical 0
1962--Riverside 6, East 0
1961--Kensington 7, Riverside 0
1960--Riverside 0, Burgard 0
1959--Bennett 14, Grover Cleveland 0
1958--Bennett 6, Riverside 0
1957--Riverside 13, Kensington 6
1956--East 0, Grover Cleveland 0
1955--East 12, Lafayette 6
1954--East finishes 6-0
1953--East finishes 6-0
1952--Bennett 7, Hutchinson 6
1951--South Park 34, Seneca 7
1950--Kensington 20, South Park 7
1949--Kensington 13, Riverside 0
1948--Kensington 27, Riverside 0
1947--Kensington 26, Lafayette 0
1946--McKinley 7, Burgard 0
1945--McKinley 19, Kensington 12
1944--McKinley 20, Bennett 0
1943--McKinley 20, Kensington 2
1942--Burgard 6, McKinley 6
1941--Bennett 0, Technical 0
1940--Bennett 13, Seneca 0
1939--Bennett 27, South Park 7
1938--East 6, Hutchinson 0
1937--East 9, Hutchinson 0
1936--Riverside finishes 6-0
1935--Bennett 6, South Park 6
1934--Fosdick, Seneca tie in standings
1930--South Park 13, Bennett 2
1929--Fosdick 6, South Park 6
1928--Lafayette 7, Fosdick 6
1925--Masten Park, South Park
1924--Masten Park
1923--Hutchinson, South Park
1922--South Park
1921--Masten Park
1920--Masten Park
1919--Masten Park
1918--Masten Park
1916--South Park
1910--Masten Park
1904--Masten Park

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