It's not necessarily the outcome that matters most. Sometimes, it's about how you respond.
And many curious eyes will be on St. Francis this weekend to see how the Red Raiders respond to their 0-2 start and most recent heartbreaking loss.
St. Francis plays at St. Joe's at 2 p.m. Saturday in a matchup of rivals and quality Monsignor Martin programs, a game that needs little extra hype. St. Joe's is off to a 2-0 start with wins over Wilson Magnet (Rochester) and Bennett.
St. Francis played non-Western New York schools to start the season, kicking off with a loss to Aquinas (Rochester) and then a debacle of a loss against Long Island's Holy Trinity in Athol Springs. The Red Raiders were leading 41-14 with 7:32 left in the game. They ended up losing, on the last play, 42-41.
"Until the final 7:32, we dominated that game," St. Francis coach Jerry Smith said. "We ran the ball very well. We didn't throw too much. Our offensive line dominated and the defensive line was great. Then with a little over seven minutes left, the wheels started falling off. I described it as the perfect storm. It was a situation where everything that could go wrong did."
Rebounding from that loss is actually a bit easier with St. Joe's next up. There's little opportunity for St. Francis to lose its focus or intensity.
"The first week we didn't come out ready to play and last week we were dominant in everything then just didn't finish," Smith said. "Because we didn't finish, the kids are not satisfied with what happened. They really want to prove that they can play for four quarters.
"We don't feel sorry for ourselves. We know we put ourselves in the situation we're in, but that's also because of the competition we faced. If we're not on our game this week, we're going to be in trouble."
St. Joe's is a high-quality opponent with plenty of talent at the skill positions. St. Francis is still on a steep learning curve, graduating 21 seniors from a 32-player team that won the Monsignor Martin Association title in Ralph Wilson Stadium last year.
"We have some skilled guys back but our line was a question because we have five brand new guys who didn't play a significant amount last year," Smith said. "So that's something we're interested in, in the long term. We knew it would be a building process this year. We knew it was going to take time to jell and for the kids to believe in themselves.
"We've seen improvement and positive signs and that's all you can ask for. The worst thing you can do is judge the type of team you are, the type of person you are, the type of football player you are, just by wins and losses.
"If you just worry about wins and losses you're missing the point of what football is about at the high school level."
In another great large school matchup just blocks away from St. Joe's, Sweet Home takes its 52-game win streak against Western New York opponents to Crosby Field as it takes on defending Class AA North champion and neighbor Kenmore West. That game is also at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Later on Saturday, Williamsville South plays Bennett at 4 p.m. at All High Stadium. The Tigers, who were a playoff team last year, are expected to be at full strength after missing several players who were academically ineligible for the first two weeks.
Week Three kicks off tonight with the featured game pitting Canisius (2-0) against McKinley (2-0) at 7 p.m. at All High Stadium. It is the third straight week that Section VI and Monsignor Martin schools have faced each other; Bishop Timon-St. Jude won at Williamsville South in Week One and St. Joe's won at Bennett last week.
In the extremely competitive Class B West, Lackawanna visits Cheektowaga tonight at 7.
In Class C North, Cleveland Hill is at Akron tonight at 7. Both teams are 2-0. Randolph (1-1) is at Maple Grove (2-0) at 7 p.m. in a Class D contest between two programs with two state titles each.