There are 78 schools playing football in Western New York, down from 81 last year.
• Maple Grove/Chautauqua Lake is now a combined program from both schools.
• Silver Creek/Forestville is also a merged program.
• International Prep at Grover Cleveland’s program folded and those players now compete for Riverside.
• Holland students can play football for the first time as part of East Aurora’s program.
Class AA: No more AA North and AA South, it’s now one nine-team division as Hutch-Tech and Riverside moved to A.
Class A: This classification goes from two divisions to three six-team divisions, with Central joining North and South.
Class B: Conversely, B goes from three divisions to two. Small school superpowers Alden and Depew move into what was already a highly competitive B South.
Class C: Still two divisions, but some of the most notable changes are here as Lackawanna and Tonawanda move down from B. C North and South are now more geographically correct as Fredonia and Gowanda have shifted to the South.
Class D: One of the state’s best D divisions (Section VI teams have won four of the last eight titles) went from eight teams to six. In: Cassadaga Valley and Westfield/Brocton (from C South), Ellicottville/West Valley (from DD). Out: Silver Creek/Forestville (to C South), Frewsburg (to DD), Cattaraugus/Little Valley (to DD), I-Prep (folded) and Chautauqua Lake (merged with Maple Grove).
Niagara-Wheatfield: Brent Tylec replaces Jim Hagerty.
Hamburg: P.J. Cauley replaces Mike McFadden.
Lake Shore: Drew Takacs replaces Chuck Kowalski.
Alden: Rob Currin replaces Dick Diminuco
Dunkirk: Tim Majka replaces Rob Genco.
Allegany-Limestone: Paul Furlong replaces Chad Lyter.
Fredonia: Mike Marshall replaces Bob Ball.
Salamanca: Jason Marsh replaces Paul Furlong.
Randolph: Brent Brown (above) replaces Pat Slater.
Ellicottville/West Valley: Chad Bartoszek replaces Tim Bergan.
Pine Valley: Ehrich Zollinger replaces Chris Buczek.
Qadree Ollison, Canisius sr. RB, Rod Payne, St. Joe’s sr. LB, Brad Zaffram, Canisius jr. LB (Sweet Home last year)
Adam DiMillo, Bishop Timon-St. Jude sr. RB, Adam Belica, Orchard Park sr. OL/DL, Ryan Byrne, Bishop Timon-St. Jude sr. DL, Cody Oldro, Randolph sr. LB, Mike Sharpe, Canisius sr. LB, Ryan Richards, Canisius sr. DB, Cameren Smith, Lackawanna sr. DB
Brian Stoldt, Alden sr. QB, DaQuan Hollingsworth, Jamestown sr. RB, Nick Vallone, St. Mary’s sr. RB, Emaure Williams, Clarence sr. WR, Zach Panebianco, Jamestown jr WR, Nigel Davis, St. Joe’s sr. DB
Tyler Mascio, South Park sr. QB (Canisius last year), Jake Sisson, Jamestown sr. QB, Jason Hellwig, Medina jr. QB, Brandon Thomas, Cleveland Hill sr. RB, Rodney Turner, Depew jr. RB, Phalla Musall, Ellicottville jr. RB, Evan Majewski, Starpoint sr. RB, Jordan Evert, Sweet Home jr. RB, Jaleel Battle, Williamsville East sr. RB, Kolbe Hughes, Williamsville North sr. WR, Devin Shaw, Eden sr. OL/DL, Michael Bowers, Randolph jr. OL/DL, Brandon Reilly, West Seneca East sr. OL/DL, Josh Huffman, Canisius jr. DB, Preston Summers, Cheektowaga sr. DB, Jared Watkins, Cleveland Hill, sr. DB, Chris Doubek, Randolph, sr. DB
Entering the last two seasons, there have been local players verbally committed to Division I schools: In 2011, it was St. Joe’s Chad Kelly (Clemson) and St. Francis’ Akeel Lynch (Boston College; he later chose Penn State); last year it was Canisius’ Ryan Hunter (Bowling Green).
This year there isn’t a player who has made a verbal commitment, but there will be soon.
Canisius’ Qadree Ollison, who won Buffalo News Player of the Year honors last season, will announce his college selection at 3:15 p.m. Monday. His five finalist schools are:
Breaking down Week One
For the first time since 2008, Week One of the high school football season starts after Labor Day, and thus after the first day of school. The later start is due to the season’s final week, Thanksgiving weekend, falling as late as possible (Nov. 28).
Most teams kick off Friday while there are notable matchups on Saturday.
Here’s a quick look at some Week One highlights:
• Sweet Home takes its 60-game win streak against Western New York teams to Milt Latimer Field Friday night for a great nonleague opener against Iroquois.
• Canisius opens at Rochester’s McQuaid while two of the state’s best programs will play in Western New York this weekend. Defending Section V Class AA champion Aquinas is at Bishop Timon-St. Jude Friday night while St. Anthony’s of Long Island is at St. Joe’s Saturday.
• Two nice regional nonleaguers have Cleveland Hill at Maryvale on Friday night while Starpoint heads to Lockport on Saturday.
• Maple Grove/Chautauqua Lake makes its debut Friday at Maple Grove against visiting Portville.
• Some good Week One league matchups have Clarence at Frontier (AA) and Williamsville North vs. McKinley at Riverside (A Central) Friday and Springville at Eden (B South) on Saturday.
• Three teams will play Section III (Syracuse area) teams in the Carrier Dome Saturday as part of the Kickoff Classic: Pioneer vs. Oneida, 11 a.m.; West Seneca East vs. Central Square, 4 p.m.; Cheektowaga vs. Jamesville-Dewitt (No. 13 in final Class A state rankings last year), 6:30.
• Latest but not least: Depew travels down to Olean for a 7:30 Saturday start in Western New York’s last-scheduled season opener.
• For standout matchups to look for throughout the season, go to the Prep Talk blog at BuffaloNews.com.