Dec 05, 1985

By TED SILARY, Daily News Sports Writer

  A funny thing happened to Emmett Harkins yesterday on his way to La Salle High's gym. An even funnier thing happened to Harkins in the gym.

  The reason? A change of heart by administrators of both schools that has caused La Salle and St . Joseph ' s Prep to resuscitate the traditional football game, which was canceled Thanksgiving morning. The game will be played at 2 p.m. Saturday at Springfield (Montco).

  "I was on (religious) retreat Monday and Tuesday in New York City," said Harkins, who quarterbacks in football and plays guard in basketball. "We came back (yesterday afternoon) and I was changing in the van, getting ready for our basketball scrimmage with Abington. I had my uniform on, my sneakers laced up.

  "Then we pull in the parking lot and I see guys running laps around the football field. I figure, 'What's this? Some kind of joke? ' Then I go into the gym and all the guys are laughing. They're just about dying. My jaw must have dropped to the floor.

  "So, I make a U-turn up to the locker room and some of the football players are still in there getting dressed. I say, 'Is this serious? ' They tell me, 'The game's back on. We're practicing. Get your stuff on. ' "

  Meanwhile, at roughly the same time at The Prep, coach Jack Branka convened a meeting to inform the players that the game indeed will be played, unless they overturn the idea in a secret ballot.

  "When I walk in, there's only eight kids," Branka said. "I told them, 'Uh, guys, uh, we need three more to play this game. What's going on here? ' As it turned out, the rest of them were in the cafeteria, feeding their faces. "

  The Prep did not practice yesterday, but will do so today and tomorrow. La Salle , of course, squeezed in an extra workout yesterday.

  "At first, I was kind of mad about the game being back on," Harkins said. ''I was into basketball. But I had fun once I got out there. I was throwing the ball great. I was telling coach (Joe) Colistra he should give the quarterback a bunch of days off more often.

  "We were in good spirits. Coach asked us if we remembered the rules of football. He said, 'It's six points for a touchdown. ' And Brian Timoney, who was already out for wrestling, said, 'Yeah, and it's two for a takedown. '

  "We had a team Mass Thanksgiving morning and no one could believe they'd canceled the game. All the seniors had blank stares on their faces. That's not exactly the way you want your career to end. We're going to be ready for this one. It should be a great game."