Countdown to Friday Night Lights / Class A Central - The Buffalo News

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Countdown to Friday Night Lights / Class A Central

Who’s who: The six-team division consists of the East Panthers, McKinley Macks, Riverside Frontiers, Williamsville East Flames, Williamsville North Spartans and Williamsville South Billies.

This year’s alignment shift: One of the major overhauls in Section VI’s divisions this year is Class A going from two divisions to three, which has made for some intriguing geographical groupings. This new division includes three city teams (McKinley from A North, East up from B and Riverside down from AA) and all three teams from the Williamsville district (East and South played in A South while North played in A North). Riverside moved down despite adding players from International Prep at Grover Cleveland (which dropped football). It was able to do so under a new state rule affecting merging programs.

Last year’s champion: New division means no defending champ, and none of these teams won titles last year.

2012 rewind: McKinley was a playoff team after taking second in A North, South was a playoff team with a third-place finish in A South; the two met in a quarterfinal in which a surging South team dominated, 35-14. It was an excellent win for South, which had struggled early and saw West Seneca East win the A South title that had been won by South the two previous seasons.

Last year’s records: In Class A South, Williamsville South 5-4, 4-2; Williamsville East 4-4, 3-3. In Class A North, McKinley 5-3, 5-1; Williamsville North 3-6, 2-4. In Class AA North, Riverside 1-8, 0-4. In Class B East, East 3-6, 2-4.

2012 All-Western New York underclassmen: Williamsville East junior RB Jaleel Battle and Williamsville North junior WR Kolbe Hughes earned honorable mention.

2012 all-league first-team underclassmen: In A North, McKinley junior QB Jamar Rutledge and sophomore DT Mikeal Crockett, Williamsville North juniors RB Derick Isler and WR Kolbe Hughes. In A South, Williamsville East junior LB Jaleel Battle (Defensive Player of the Year) and East sophomore DL Chris Tideswell. In Class D, sophomore RB William Burgess of I-Prep/Grover, now playing at Riverside.

Pre-snap read: Having the city trio and Williamsville trio will make for some fun matchups throughout the year, including some Thursday night games in Amherst in Weeks Two and Three. McKinley and Will South deserve nods as favorites based on recent seasons. Battle was extremely impressive last season for East while Hughes has big-play potential for North.

Week One (Sept. 6-7) must-see games: The kickoff includes three league games, with the best matchup probably Williamsville North’s trip to Riverside Friday night to take on McKinley.

Scrimmage Saturday: The first day teams could scrimmage other schools was Saturday. Review a PrepTalkTV video report at

Prep Talk blog at 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 30 head coaches (with more to come).

Live chats & PrepTalkTV: The first of the weekly Wednesday night live chats will be Wednesday at 9 p.m. at The PrepTalkTV schedule will be released soon.

The countdown continues: A North (Monday), Class AA (Tuesday) and the Monsignor Martin Association (Wednesday). Already published: A South (Saturday), B North (Friday), B South (Thursday), C North (Aug. 28), C South (Aug. 27), Class D (Aug. 26) and DD (Aug. 25). You will be able to review them all at the Prep Talk blog.

Season preview coming Thursday: 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 2013 season.

Attention coaches and ADs: As soon as they are determined, Section VI coaches need to send a roster — in spreadsheet form — to Monsignor Martin coaches should email rosters to

Friday Night Live at Every week, the place to monitor all of the Friday night action is 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.

— Keith McShea

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