Bennett Tigers (8-3)
Coach: Stevenson McDuffie, sixth season
Home field: All High Stadium
Program founded: Unknown
Outlook: After winning the program's first Section VI championship, the Tigers move up from Class A into the big-boys classification – their fourth different class in as many seasons. While Bennett has made three straight sectional finals, the nucleus of those teams graduated last spring – including Boston College freshman and News Player of the Year Isaiah McDuffie. The Tigers do return a starter in Brandon Barksdale. The 6-2 receiver/corner runs the 40 in 4.52 seconds and has a vertical leap of more than 3 feet. Another senior back in the fold is running back/linebacker Semaj Clements, who can also run the 40 in the 4.5 range. While the cupboard isn't totally bare, depth could be an issue playing in Class AA with 27 players on the roster.
Sept. 1 at Lancaster, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 8 Frontier, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Lockport, 4 p.m.
Sept. 23 at Niagara Wheatfield, 2 p.m.
Sept. 29 Clarence, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 vs. Burgard (at Riverside), 1 p.m.
Oct. 14 Niagara Falls, 1 p.m.
Clarence Red Devils (6-3)
Coach: Paul Burgio, first season
Home field: No name
Program founded: Circa 1919
Outlook: After winning the North Division title and reaching the sectional semifinals, the Red Devils return several key members from that team – including six starters on offense. Leading the charge is junior quarterback Jack Putney, a tall, strong kid with a good arm. He accounted for 11 touchdowns last year (nine passing). Lining up in the backfield with him is senior Jacob Reger, who rushed for a team-high five touchdowns and averaged 4.9 per carry in Clarence's run-by-committee approach last year. Junior Jon Stevens is an all-purpose player and the fastest kid on the team, according to Burgio. Brendan Cimerman is a vital two-way player, a running back (3.8 yards per carry) and defensive end (40 tackles, two sacks). Yianni Hallios is a returning starter at center.
Sept. 1 Williamsville South, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 Niagara Falls, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Jamestown, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 Frontier, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 at Bennett, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 Niagara Wheatfield, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 13 vs. Hutch-Tech (at Riverside), 7 p.m.
Frontier Falcons (1-7)
Coach: Mark Privateer
Home field: Joe Dietz Field
Program founded: 1954
Outlook: The Falcons' strength is at the skill positions, unlike last year when the line was their strength. Will that lead to a turnaround season? That's why they play the games. Frontier's top offensive threats include returning quarterback Dylan Kmitch along with running back Tyler Bailey. The Falcons plan to use the flex bone triple-option and have a few fullbacks they hope will make the offense purr in returning starter Max Flemming, Mike Ventresca and Matt Pratts. On defense, Chris Smith moves from corner to outside linebacker. The numbers in the program are up as varsity and JV have 82 kids combined, an increase of 13 from last season. "We're seeing the transition happen … getting the numbers and athletes back in the program," Privateer said.
Sept. 1 Jamestown, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 at Bennett, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 Hutch-Tech, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 at Clarence, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 Niagara Falls, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 at Williamsville North, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 Hamburg, 7 p.m.
Hutch-Tech Engineers (6-3)
Coach: Chris Gelsomino, 10th season
Home field: All High Stadium
Program founded: 1954
Outlook: The Engineers got off to a winning start last season and rode that momentum to the sectional semifinals. While they graduated several key players from that team – including Duane Robertson and Michael Carr-Johnson – getting off to a great start could be the key toward another winning season. Rodney Bailey is coming off a division all-star season at defensive end. Returning to join him in the starting lineup at the other DE spot is Vergie Morrison. Defensive tackle Otis Houston has good potential as he makes the move up from junior varsity. WR Nasir Tarver and guard Joey Argienteri return, while running backs David Bradshaw and Shaiin LaGrange will handle running back duties. Linemen Derrick Morris and Mazion Bates transfer in from Riverside.
Sept. 1 at Williamsville North, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 Jamestown, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 at Frontier, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 at Lockport, 2 p.m.
Sept. 28 West Seneca East, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 Orchard Park, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 Clarence, 7 p.m.
Jamestown Red Raiders (1-7)
Coach: Tom Langworthy, ninth season
Home field: Strider Field
Program founded: 1893
Outlook: The proud multi-time state-championship program had an un-Jamestown-like season in 2016. Looking to help the team move past that will be a couple third-year starters, including center and tackle Noah Turzillo, who also wrestles and is simply powerful. Andrew Pumford is a smart, athletic receiver and defensive back. The future pre-med student ranks first in grade-point average among the senior class. Shifty, fast Francisco Rodriguez returns as starting running back and also is a solid receiver. Six-foot-3 Drew Boggs moves up from junior varsity to start at quarterback. Manhattan King, 6-3, 280, will start at defensive tackle and had a phenomenal offseason in which he shed 80 pounds. Third-year player Kanin Tanner moves from tight end to tackle to solidify the line.
Sept. 1 at Frontier, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 at Hutch-Tech, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 Clarence, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 Springville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 Williamsville North, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 Lancaster, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 at Orchard Park, 7 p.m.
Lancaster Legends (10-1)
Coach: Eric Rupp, second season
Home field: Foyle/Kling Field
Program founded: 1919
Outlook: The reigning Section VI Class AA champions graduated a pair of All-Western New York picks in first-team receiver Leugim Castillo and second-team running back Zach Samborski but return five starters on offense and seven on defense. That includes All-Western New York first-teamer Max Giordano. The senior receiver/defensive back set or tied school records for catches (41), touchdown receptions (10) and extra points (39). He's a reliable target for returning quarterback Ryan Mansell. The senior-to-be passed for nearly 2,000 yards and 23 scores. Second-team All-WNY linebacker Joe Andreessen returns along with tag-team partner and fellow All-WNY honoree Ben Damiani. Andrew Hersey returns to play running back, while outside linebacker Brett Beetow is now a three-year starter. Mitchell Klima rounds out the starting linebacking group.
Sept. 1 Bennett, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Lockport, 2 p.m.
Sept. 15 Orchard Park, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 23 at Niagara Falls, noon
Sept. 29 Niagara Wheatfield, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 6 at Jamestown, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 at Depew, 7:30 p.m.
Lockport Lions (1-8)
Coach: Matt Vermette, second season
Home field: Max D. Lederer Field
Program founded: Circa 1920s
Outlook: The Lions set up a goal they hope will lead to them playing a meaningful home game to start the postseason – get through the preseason healthy. That didn't happen last year as Vermette's first season got derailed by an injury at quarterback. Javon Ford is back after missing 2016 with a knee injury and has looked good throughout camp. Senior all-star and two-way lineman Jason Robillard also returns. Xavier Barber is a returning second-team all-league linebacker and running back. Expect good things from receivers/defensive backs Isaac Drake, Nico Haney and Josh Cooper. The team hopes to get speedster Malik Brooks back. The track standout suffered a lower-body injury during the summer playing basketball.
Sept. 2 at Niagara Wheatfield, 2 p.m.
Sept. 9 Lancaster, 2 p.m.
Sept. 15 Bennett, 4 p.m.
Sept. 23 Hutch-Tech, 2 p.m.
Sept. 30 at Orchard Park, 1 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Niagara Falls, noon
Oct. 14 Starpoint, 2 p.m.
Niagara Falls Wolverines (6-2)
Coach: Don Bass, 11th season
Home field: Niagara Falls Athletic Complex
Program founded: 2000
Outlook: The Wolverines graduated a lot from last season's contender but Bass said they "will be all right." They return four starters on defense, including swift defensive end Syquan Ralands, who has a knack for disrupting the opposition's offense by being quick off the snap. He also plays receiver. Lining up on the opposite side of the defensive line is his brother Syveon. The Wolverines graduated four starting offensive linemen but return center Jordan Maday. They also welcome Bennett transfer Rod Arrington to the fold. He's a 275-pound guard/defensive tackle. Receiver Rodney Barnes is one of the faster players in the area and will also return kicks and play corner. David Morgan is a returning running back, and Deante Matthews moves up from JV to start at quarterback.
Sept. 2 at Kenmore West, 2 p.m.
Sept. 8 at Clarence, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 Williamsville North, 2 p.m.
Sept. 23 Lancaster, noon
Sept. 29 at Frontier, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 Lockport, noon
Oct. 14 at Bennett, 1 p.m.
Niagara Wheatfield Falcons (4-5)
Coach: Russ Nixon, second season
Home field: Terry Harvey Field
Program founded: 1958
Outlook: The Falcons have won the Funke Consolation Bowl championship each of the past two seasons. They look to make a run at earning a spot in the main postseason tournament under Nixon, who took over following a Week Three loss at Williamsville North last year. The 42-player roster features 23 juniors and 18 seniors. Returning two-way starter Bryan Lucinski anchors the offensive and defensive lines. Joining him on both is fellow senior Justin Stickney. Jordan Park took over at quarterback after Week Three and more than held his own as the junior totaled 13 touchdowns (eight rushing) and helped NW post a 4-2 record in those games. Junior Jake DeWolf returns to start at free safety. "Expectations are we're going to compete, be physical and aggressive," Nixon said.
Sept. 2 Lockport, 2 p.m.
Sept. 8 at Orchard Park, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Grand Island, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 Bennett, 2 p.m.
Sept. 29 at Lancaster, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 6 at Clarence, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 14 Williamsville North, 2 p.m.
Orchard Park Quakers (6-4)
Coach: Gene Tundo, 24th season
Home field: Quaker Field
Program founded: Circa 1947
Outlook: The Class AA runner-up graduated several key members, including Dillon Janca – the No. 3 all-time passing yards leader (6,293) in Western New York history. The Quakers, however, remain hopeful they can reach the championship game and compete for their 15th sectional title. Sophomore Jack Sharp takes over at quarterback and is doing a great job, according to Tundo. Key returnees include receiver/defensive back Nic Bruce, who had 561 yards and four touchdowns, and twin brothers defensive backs/running backs Noah and Dylan Bieler. Brian Strybel enters his third season as kicker and has a strong leg. Other seniors trying to help OP return to their home away from home, New Era Field, include Ryne Deitz, Ethan Falsone and Griffin Harrigan.
Sept. 1 McKinley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 Niagara Wheatfield, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Lancaster, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 22 at Williamsville North, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 Lockport, 1 p.m.
Oct. 6 at Hutch-Tech, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 Jamestown, 7 p.m.
Williamsville North Spartans (4-4)
Coach: Mike Mammoliti, 17th season
Home field: Williamsville North Field
Program founded: 1968
Outlook: After losing four games combined in 2014 and 2015, North lost that many in 2016. So, the Spartans' goal for 2017 is simple. "We fell back a little bit," Mammoliti said. "We need to bounce back. We need to play the way we expect to play." Looking to lead North upward in the standings is third-year starter Scott Becht, a lineman and linebacker. Second-year starter Cam Walter plays linebacker and fullback. Inside linebacker Scott Hopkins is a 6-1, 235-pound sophomore. Junior quarterback Joe Nusall enters his first full season as a starter with five games experience under his belt. Senior running backs Marquel Wells, Vinny Catanzaro and Ivan Ghemmegne should contribute on both sides of the ball along with receiver/corner Brett Isler.
Sept. 1 Hutch-Tech, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 Williamsville East, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 at Niagara Falls, 2 p.m.
Sept. 22 Orchard Park, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 at Jamestown, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 Frontier, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Niagara Wheatfield, 2 p.m.