The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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Harold Raker

October 28, 2011

For Red Tornadoes, 800 means 800

When you declare that your football team has just won its 800th game in school history, you are bound to get a bit of attention.

So after Mount Carmel did that with its 35-14 victory at Shikellamy on Friday night, the resulting publicity brought questions from readers.

One of them, a Shamokin area resident, wrote that while he did not wish to diminish the fine record of the Mount Carmel football program, he disputed that the school won its 800th game on Friday.

His reasoning: Mount Carmel has only been in existence since 1965 and would have had to have averaged 17 wins a year to get 800.

He based his reasoning on the fact that today's Mount Carmel High School is a merger of Kulpmont and Mount Carmel. Others added that even Mount Carmel Township and Mount Carmel Catholic were a part of the school in the early years.

OK, so it sounds like this 800 is bogus, right?

Not so fast.

First of all, there was a Mount Carmel High School (all by itself) when it started playing football, and got the first of those 800 wins, in 1893.

Secondly, according to Mount Carmel sports information director and longtime Silver Bowl public address announcer Phil Gergen, none of the wins by those other former schools are included in the milestone win total.

"All of our records have been reviewed by Dr. (Roger) Saylor, the PIAA statistician, and approved by him," Gergen said.

Gergen noted that when research by he and team statistician Jose Gonzalo uncovered more game results several years ago, the PIAA's Saylor approved the addition of four wins, five losses and two ties to the all-time record. Another game, because it was against the West End Athletic Club, was rejected, as were some other games from the past.

So, there you have it.

The 800 will stand. Good thing, too, because, over the weekend, someone already changed the win total posted atop the Silver Bowl press box to "800."

MORE CONNECTIONS: You may have read the cover story in Thursday's Game Night, dealing with the close friendship between the families of the two starting quarterbacks in tonight's Southern Columbia-Mount Carmel game (if not, copies are still available). Mount Carmel's Zach Wasilewski and Southern's Brad Fegley and their older brothers, Marcus and Dave, respectively, have been lifelong friends.

Gergen said that the quarterback's uncle, Frank Fegley, was one of his Mount Carmel High School classmates. Gergen added that Frank Fegley went on to Carnegie Tech and became an engineer on the Straits of Gibraltar when they built the Mackinac Bridge connecting the upper peninsula to the rest of Michigan. It is one of the largest suspension bridges in the world. Before the bridge was completed, motorists had to travel by ferry between the two regions, Gergen said.

MORE PINK: Fans headed out to various high school games tonight should be advised that, at most of the games, they will see lots and lots of pink. Most of the Valley's football teams, aside from those which have already participated in the program, will display pink tonight in connection with October being Breast Cancer Awareness month.

n Assistant sports editor Harold Raker covers high school football (and gives occasional geography lessons) for The Daily Item. Email comments to hraker@dailyitem.com.

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