LUCKILY, BOB McTAGUE is a sensible kid and the last thing he wants is detention.
So, when he traverses the hallways at Conwell-Egan High and gets asks umpteen times what the heck is wrong with the football team, he answers as politely as possible (or just laughs) and resists all temptations to pile-drive the questioner through the nearest wall.
Maybe your breakfast toast got burned. Maybe the guy sitting next to you on the subway last bathed in August.
McTague doesn't want to hear it. The 6-3, 240-pound senior, a two-way tackle, is part of a grid squad that's now 0-9 and has been outscored, 379-75.
One-hundred sixty of those points on the left side of the hyphen have been yielded over the last three games, and the score of Saturday's non-league affair with Roman Catholic, played in snow - yes, late-October snow - at Northeast High, was 50-0.
As much as possible, McTague remains Mr. McSunshine.
"We just come out and play," he said, simply. "We can't really do anything about the scores. It's just a fight.
"At practices, to make sure we're not uptight about all this, our coach [Jack Techtmann] has been trying to make things more enjoyable. We're doing a lot more live stuff. Scrimmage kind of things. And we're doing some fun things with the conditioning drills."
"In the 40-yard sprints," he said, "we'll do races between the linemen and the backs. I am one of the faster linemen, but the backs are a lot faster than I am."
One of those backs, a projected top rusher, Chaz Cason, broke his collarbone in Week One. A star linebacker, Dan McLaughlin, is also out with an injury. The Eagles are dressing roughly 30 players and many are freshmen and sophomores.
Around the Archdiocese, rumors are strong that C-E, probably among other schools, will be shuttered come June.
McTague believes the school will be given 1 more year, and the idea it could soon disappear, as he put it, after first biting his tongue, "would not be too good."
Saturday night, McTague and teammates got their first (only?) thrill just running and screaming through the snow to prepare for pregame warmups.
The opening kickoff was fumbled (recovery to Michael Boccelli) and star wideout William Fuller, out of a WildCahillite formation, scored for Roman two plays later on an 18-yard run. Roman's second possession produced a 78-yard scoring run for Marcus Kelly (11-189).
Fuller, Dimetri Kelly (two, he's Marcus' freshman brother), Patrick McCourt (brother of coach Joe McCourt) and Christian Green ran for the other touchdowns. Down lineman Robert Harris-Barron paced the defense with a fumble recovery and six backfield tackles.
McTague's highlights included a fumble recovery and 8-yard sack. Kyle Techtmann, Jack's son, had an interception.
McTague, who lives in Croydon, also plays basketball - his uncle, Eddie McTague, starred at North Catholic and became a Hall of Fame honoree at Kutztown - but his sport of preference is football. His projected college major is criminal justice and he'd like to become a detective.
First, he'd do anything to get a win. As the Eagles await their Thanksgiving tussle with Harry S Truman, they'll stay busy with a home game Saturday night against Morrisville, a fellow lesser light at 1-7.
"We respect all opponents. We won't come out cocky," McTague said. "But that'll be a chance for a win. And getting one would be great."