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Football number crunching

Audible to the historian: After McKinley beat St. Joe's, 12-0, on Saturday, the question on everyone's mind was: When was the last time St. Joe's lost to a city team? For questions like that, there's only one place to go: WNY and state football statistician Paul Hutzler.

"The last time St. Joe's lost to a Harvard Cup team was ... 1931," Hutzler responded in an email about 20 minutes after I e-mailed him. "They lost to Seneca, 12-0. Technically, Seneca was not a member of the Harvard Cup League. The Buffalo City Vocational Schools played in their own league. So, if you don't count that as a Harvard Cup team, then the last 'Harvard Cup League' team to beat them was in 1930 when they lost to Lafayette, 33-0. In 1933, they beat Seneca (6-0) and Burgard (6-0) … both vocational teams. They then did not meet a Harvard Cup team again until 2003 when they beat Lafayette, 18-6."

Paul, on behalf of WNY football fans, thank you.

* Tough trip to No. 22: St. Joe's has already had a rough start to the season, but Saturday it could get tougher. The Marauders head to Melvile, L.I., to face St. Anthony's in its season opener. St. Anthony's is ranked 22nd in the nation in USA Today's Super 25 and is 11th in the East in the StudentSportsFootball.com rankings. St. Anthony's doesn't crack Student Sports' Fab 50, which is a superior ranking system to USA Today's, but never mind that. The bottom line is that the Friars are frighteningly good. Last year, St. Anthony's won at St. Joe's, 49-29.

* Streak talk: Speaking of top-caliber football around the nation, Independence High of Charlotte had its winning streak end 109 wins and seven years after it began. Cincinnati Elder ended the nation's longest football winning streak with a 41-34 overtime victory Saturday night in the Kirk Herbstreit Challenge in Cincinnati. A few exits down the Thruway, an eventful opening night of New York football included Union-Endicott of Section IV (Binghamton area) beating Syracuse's Christian Brothers Academy, 27-10, to end the Brothers' 56-game home winning streak over a span of 15 seasons.

Western New York's longest current win streak is the 18-game run by Cardinal O'Hara. The longest win streak in WNY history is 37 by Lackawanna, which ended in 1999. The longest unbeaten streak is 43 by Canisius, ended in 1977.

* Not what it seemed: Just for the record from St. Francis' 42-13 win at North Tonawanda - with less than two minutes left in the first half, it appeared at first glance that St. Francis, which had just scored 35 points in the second quarter, executed -- and recovered -- an on-sides kick. Not the case. St. Francis coaches felt terrible that a new kicker they put into the game simply flubbed the kick. The Red Raiders did recover the ball, but they took a knee on the last two plays of the first half. "He actually missed the ball," said coach Jerry Smith. "I said to the kid, do you have any idea how your mistake made it look? That's why we took a knee."

But for a moment, it looked like perhaps St. Francis was rubbing it in and everyone quickly remembered an incident between the two schools that occurred in the offseason. Three NT players posed as transfers from Texas in May and had St. Francis coach Jerry Smith take them on a tour of the school, even asking him about the Red Raiders' offense. NT coach Eric Jantzi found out about the incident, punished his players and made them apologize to Smith.

* Football in their blood: A pair of famous local football last names showed off their versatility in Week One. St. Francis has a talented pair of juniors in Delano Fabor and Lucas Tasker, who is the son of former Buffalo Bill Steve Tasker. Fabor is the quarterback and Tasker a receiver/kicker/returner. But on one point-after attempt, the Red Raiders lined up in kicking formation before Tasker tossed the kicking tee away and lined up under center while Fabor went out to the left and lined up at receiver. Tasker hit Fabor with a great pass for the two-point conversion, which shouldn't be that much of a surprise. Tasker played quarterback last year while Fabor was injured.

At St. Mary's it was deja vu all over again: juniors Greg Justen and Jesse Kelso, who is the son of former Bill and current St. Mary's assistant Mark Kelso, were vying for the quarterback spot in camp. On Saturday, Justen earned the starting spot at QB. Kelso, meanwhile, just turned from route-reader to route-runner, racking up five catches for 159 yards, including touchdowns of 35 and 55 yards, in a 21-7 win over Alden.

--- Keith McShea

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