By Keith McShea
Who's who: The six-team division consists of the Clymer Pirates, Franklinville Panthers, Frewsburg Bears, Panama Panthers, Pine Valley Panthers and Sherman/Ripley Wildcats.
This year's alignment shift: This division went from seven teams to six. Forestville (which was winless last season after winning one game in 2011) merged with Silver Creek (that combined program is in Class C South). Ellicottville/West Valley moved up to Class D and Frewsburg moved down from Class D. Class D consists of seven teams that will compete for the Section VI Class D title, with the winner advancing to the state playoffs.
The DD teams compete for their own championship, but the winner's season ends there.
The split of the D schools into D and DD began two seasons ago and has been widely considered a success as it keeps traditional state powers like Maple Grove, Randolph and Portville in a separate division from much smaller (and often overmatched) schools.
Last year's champion: Ellicottville/West Valley finished a 7-2 season with a 34-16 victory over Clymer in the Class DD championship game at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
2012 rewind: Ellicottville/West Valley avenged a 20-14 loss at Clymer in Week Three with a dominating performance that sent 29-year coach Tim Bergan into retirement with a title and league Coach of the Year honors. Clymer edged Sherman/Ripley in a semifinal indicative of the competitive season among the top three in DD. Panama won a three-way tiebreaker to earn the division's fourth playoff berth.
Last year's records: Clymer 7-2, 5-1; Ellicottville/West Valley 7-2, 5-1; Sherman/Ripley 6-2, 5-1; Franklinville, 5-4, 2-4; Panama 2-6, 2-4; Pine Valley 3-6, 2-4; Forestville 0-8, 0-6. Frewsburg 3-5, 3-4 in Class D.
2012 All-Western New York underclassmen: None.
2012 all-league first-team underclassmen: Sherman juniors QB Andrew Graham, OL Jacob Troy and WR John Luden; Franklinville juniors LB Jamie Greiner and DB Peter Kopp; Clymer junior RB Jake Wiggers; Panama junior FB Stephen Enlow; Pine Valley junior LB Dan Weaver.
Pre-snap read: Sherman appears to be a favorite after last year's successful season and the return of several all-league players, led by co-Offensive Player of the Year Graham. The Wildcats also had two more all-league second-teamers underclassmen: juniors Jon Spacht and Chris Greiner. Frewsburg should be among the top teams after moving down from the tough Class D, where the Bears opened last season with a victory over eventual state champion Randolph. Clymer, featuring perhaps the league's top player in Wiggers, seems to always be in the mix despite being the smallest football school in Section VI.
Week One (Sept. 6-7) must-see game: All six teams play league games in which the road teams had better 2012 campaigns than their hosts: Sherman at Franklinville and Frewsburg at Pine Valley on Friday; Clymer at Panama on Saturday.
Scrimmage Saturday: The first day teams can scrimmage other schools is Saturday. Sherman and Clymer are at Frewsburg, along with Cassadaga Valley and Falconer, at 9 a.m. The schedule of Western New York scrimmages is available at the Prep Talk blog at buffalonews.com.
Prep Talk blog at buffalonews.com: Watch exclusive [BN]TheLockerRoom video of Canisius coach Rich Robbins' initial address to his team, look over the entire 2013 week-by-week schedule and watch #preptalkpreseason video interviews with 26 head coaches (with more to come).
Live chats & PrepTalkTV: The first of the weekly Wednesday night live chats will be Sept. 4 at 9 p.m. at buffalonews.com. The PrepTalkTV schedule will be released soon.
The countdown continues: Class D (Monday), C South (Tuesday), C North (Wednesday), B South (Thursday), B North (Friday), A South (Saturday), A Central (Sept. 1), A North (Sept. 2), Class AA (Sept. 3) and the Monsignor Martin Association (Sept. 4). You will be able to review them all at the Prep Talk blog.
Season preview coming Sept. 5: The annual preview issue will have capsules and schedules for all 78 teams in Western New York, along with feature stories, a must-see cover and everything else one needs to know about the 2012 season.
Attention coaches & ADs: As soon as they are determined, Section VI coaches need to send a roster — in spreadsheet form — to firstname.lastname@example.org. Monsignor Martin coaches should email rosters to email@example.com.
Friday Night Live at buffalonews.com: Every week, the place to monitor all of the Friday night action is BuffaloNews.com and the Prep Talk blog. We will have video reports, photos, live updates from several top games (including play-by-play from our premier matchup of the night) and you will again be a part of the team via Twitter: Tweet game updates with the #preptalkscores hashtag and those will appear in our live blog.