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Countdown to Friday Night Lights: Class C

Who’s who: The 11-team class consists of two divisions.

Class C North includes the Akron Tigers, Eden/North Collins Raiders, Cleveland Hill Eagles, John F. Kennedy Bears and Wilson Lakemen.

Class C South features the Allegany/Limestone Gators, Chautauqua Lake Thunderbirds, Falconer/Cassadaga Valley Falcons, Gowanda/Pine Valley Panthers, Salamanca Warriors and Southwestern Trojans.

Alignment shift: Eden/NC returns after canceling its varsity season last year and drops down from Class B South. Lackawanna moves from C North to Class B East, Bennett to Class A South and Silver Creek/Forestville drops down to Class D. The only change in Class C South is that Chautauqua Lake is now a single program after three seasons merged with Maple Grove.

Last year’s champion: Maple Grove/Chautauqua Lake defeated Bennett in overtime, 29-28, to capture its second straight Section VI championship. The Thunder Dragons lost in the Far West Regionals at the former Sahlen’s Stadium to Bath, 16-8. Maple Grove/CL finished the season ranked second in the News Small School poll and sixth in the state.

Last year’s records: Class C North – Bennett 8-2, 6-0; Cleveland Hill 7-2, 5-1; Lackawanna 6-3, 4-2; Silver Creek 4-4, 3-3; Akron 3-6, 2-4; JFK 4-5, 1-5; Wilson 2-7, 0-6.

Class C South – Maple Grove/CL 9-2, 5-0; Gowanda/PV 5-3, 3-2; Southwestern 3-5, 3-2; All./Limestone 4-4, 3-2; Cass. Valley/Falconer 1-7, 1-4; Salamanca 0-8, 0-5.

Newcomers: Eden/North Collins.

2015 All-Western New York underclassmen: Third team linebacker Matt Eldridge returns for his senior year at Cleve Hill.

2015 all-league first-team underclassmen: Class C North – RB Jake Sarrow-10 (Akron), OL Austin Ladd-11 (Akron), OL Matt Eldridge-11 (Cleveland Hill), OL Nate Pawlowski-11 (Cleveland Hill).

Class C South –RB Kameron Alexander-11 (Gowanda), WR Niko Pannes-11 (Southwestern), Mitch Padilla-11 (Maple Grove/CL), RB Brad Benson-11 (Maple Grove/Ch. Lake), LB Marcus Grove-11 (All.-Limestone), LB Galberto Ortiz-11 (Gowanda), LB Trevor Micek-11 (Maple Grove/CL), WR Mitch Padilla-11 (Maple Grove/CL), DL Zak Trim-10 (Maple Grove/CL), DB Dalton DuBois-11 (Maple Grove/CL).

Week One (Sept. 2-3): Opening night features the return of football for Eden/NC as it hosts a 5 p.m. kick off Friday against John F. Kennedy in a C North division clash. That same night, Cleve Hill makes the short trip to play its traditional nonleague game against town rival Maryvale at 7 p.m. Other games include Akron at Wilson and Gowanda/PV at Southwestern. Chautauqua Lake must wait until Sept. 6 to play its Week One contest. The Thunderbirds host Eden/NC and then must play on short rest Sept. 10 at Gowanda.

Prep Talk.BuffaloNews.com: Review the entire 2016 week-by-week schedule and see photos and videos from our various training-camp stops.

The countdown continues: Class B (Sunday), Class A (Monday), Class AA (Tuesday) and the Monsignor Martin Association (Wednesday). Class D is available online at the Prep Talk blog.

Season preview coming Thursday: Our annual preview issue will have capsules and schedules for all 72 teams in Western New York, along with feature stories, photos, a must-see cover and everything else one needs to know about the 2016 season.

Attention coaches & ADs: As soon as they are determined, Section VI coaches need to send a roster -- in spreadsheet form -- to rcurrin@aldenschools.org. Monsignor Martin coaches should email rosters to mrodriguez@buffnews.com.

#PrepTalkLive at buffalonews.com: Every weekend, the place to monitor all of the Friday night and Saturday afternoon action is PrepTalk.BuffaloNews.com. We will have video reports, photos, live updates from several top games and you will again be a part of the team via Twitter. Tweet game updates with the #PrepTalkLive hashtag and those will appear in our live post.

#PrepTalkSpirit: High school students, tweet your fan photos from the crowd and include the hashtag #PrepTalkSpirit. We’ll retweet some of the best at @bufnewspreptalk and we'll pick a #PrepTalkSpirit winning photo every weekend of high school football.

Countdown to Friday Night Lights: Class D

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