Lancaster and Niagara-Wheatfield, two teams left for dead this season after graduating all 11 starters, put undefeated records on the line in two of this weekend's big games.
In a battle between the top-ranked large schools in Western New York, No. 2 Lancaster (4-0) travels to No. 1 Orchard Park (4-0) for a 2 p.m. homecoming game on Saturday.
Niagara-Wheatfield (4-0) visits Sweet Home on Saturday in a game that in recent years has provided more than its share of drama. The Falcons and Panthers met for the Class A title in 1996 and 1997 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The Redskins don't appear to match up well against the three-time defending Class AA Quakers, and none of OP's first four opponents has had success stopping 5-foot-11, 225-pound fullback Sal Palermo. Palermo, is coming off a three-touchdown game against Frontier, giving him five short-yardage scores this season.
"There is a huge disparity between his (OP coach Gene Tundo) lines and ours," Lancaster coach Len Jankiewicz said. "We realize they are very physical, very seasoned offensive and defensive lines with a great running game and big-play capability. We've come up with big plays to put points on the board early, but we haven't really dominated the play in any of our games."
Niagara-Wheatfield not only lost every starter on both sides of the ball, they also graduated their punter, kicker, and longtime coach Ace Cacciatore retired. Carrying on the tradition has been first-year coach Alan Pogel who said, "We always have high expectations, so we work hard to that end."
Sweet Home will need a huge game from senior running back J.J. Gibson, who is coming off a 226-yard performance against LaSalle, and has rushed for 817 yards on 88 carries. He averages 9.3 yards per carry and has seven touchdowns.
There are three other games this weekend involving undefeated teams.
Williamsville South (4-0) is at West Seneca East (4-0) on Friday at 7 p.m. in Division III. Tonawanda (4-0) is at Medina (4-0) for a Division IV game on Friday at 7:30. In the Harvard Cup, Kensington (3-0) and South Park (3-0) square off on Friday at 5 p.m. at War Memorial Stadium.
Crosby Field in Kenmore is the site of this year's game between rivals St. Joe's and Canisius on Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. . . . Jason Burch of Southwestern needs 10 yards rushing on Saturday against Olean to surpass 1,000 yards. . . . Mike Capen of Newfane is the Week Four winner of the Buffalo Bills Coach of the Week award. The Panthers deflected a pass in the game's final minute to edge Albion, 34-33. The award, sponsored by the Bills and the NFL, carries a weekly $500 weekly donation to the winning team's program. . . . Albion may be 1-3, but junior running back Brandon Munson has 769 yards, including 296 on Friday against Newfane.