Top five reasons Orchard Park should schedule a Catholic school in a nonleague football game in 2008:
1. You're No. 2. Yes, we're only one week into the season, but if OP and St. Francis both win the games they are supposed to the rest of the way, The News large school poll title would likely go to St. Francis. Why? Because everybody knows how the Red Raiders did against a traditional Section VI power (winning at NT, 42-13), and nobody will ever know how OP would do against a Monsignor Martin power.
2. Who's No. 1? We love debates, but imagining how one team would do against another gets tiresome. It's silly not be involved in a great nonleague matchup most everyone else would love to see. That sound you're hearing is the rest of the state's high school football fans pointing and laughing at Western New York. Well, except Long Island. And Long Island public schools have an excuse: their schedules prevent nonleague games. Their schedules are the same excuse they use for not participating in the state championships (now it's your turn to laugh at them).
3. Don't you want to play the best competition? It's safe to say that in any particular season, Western New York's best Catholic schools are very good football teams. So shouldn't the public schools want to play them? A major reason why the best programs in Western New York are the best is that they play the best competition, so it prepares them to play tough teams in the state playoffs. You know what program is great about playing outstanding nonleague games every season, sometimes even against (gasp!) Catholic schools? The 13-time defending Section VI Class A champion Orchard Park lacrosse team, which is one of the best programs in Western New York high school sports history. Sounds like the coach of that great OP program should talk to the coach of the other great OP program. Oh. It's the same great coach.
4. There's always room for improvement. If you buy the logic behind No. 3, check these numbers out: It's been six years and counting since a Section VI large school won a state championship (Jamestown in 2000). Of the 21 Class AA and A state championships, Section VI has won three. Orchard Park has made 14 appearances in the sectional championships at Ralph Wilson Stadium and its won seven Section VI titles. But its 0-7 against Section V (Rochester area) in the Far West Regionals.
5. The only hope Western New York fans have for seeing these teams play each other is in nonleague games. That's because Catholic schools are never getting into Section VI, which is the way it should be. But that's a whole other blog.
-- Keith McShea