Salamanca Warriors (1-8)
Coach: Paul Haley, third season
Home field: Vets’ Park
Program founded: 1915
Outlook: After going winless in 2015, the Warriors grabbed one win last season. Haley hopes his team can build on that with several key returners and a new classification (Salamanca moved from Class C South to Class D). He returns six offensive starters and seven on the defense in his third year at the helm. A trio of players he expects to be top contributors are senior running back linebacker Braden Siebert, junior wide receiver/safety Tyler Hedlund and junior tight end/safety Ira John. Haley sees his team as deeper than in years past. Two years ago his players had little varsity experience in his first year on the job and last year 18 of his 29 players were returning varsity contributors. This year, he hopes, is the next step in Salamanca’s growth.
Sept. 1 at Portville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 vs. Maple Grove, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Cattaraugus/Little Valley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 at Franklinville/Ellicottville (Ellicottville), 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 vs. Clymer/Sherman/Panama, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 at Gowanda/Pine Valley, 7 p.m.
Chautauqua Lake Thunderbirds (2-6)
Coach: Rich Morton, first season
Home field: Thunderbird Stadium
Program founded: 2016
Outlook: The Thunderbirds have their second new coach in as many years, as Morton takes the helm following Adam Erickson’s 2-6 season a year ago in Class C South. Last season was the program’s first after disbanding from Maple Grove. The team returns one all-league player, sophomore defensive back Aiden Carson, the youngest player to make Class C South’s first team. Chautauqua Lake will be a senior-heavy team, relying on running back/linebacker Josh Walsh, quarterback/safety Devin Pope, wideout/linebacker Bryce Rowe and wide receiver/defensive back J.C. McCroskey, among several others. The Thunderbirds return nine starters on each side of the ball, and while they may not have have the star power at the top of their depth chart, they have the depth to crawl closer to .500 this season.
Sept. 1 vs. Southwestern, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 at Randolph, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Portville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 vs. Maple Grove, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 at Cattaraugus/Little Valley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 vs. Franklinville/Ellicottville, 7 p.m.
Portville Panthers (0-8)
Coach: Gary Swetland, 26th season
Home field: Portville Field
Program founded: 1921
Outlook: Coming off a winless season in 2016, there’s only one way the Panthers can go. They graduate their only first-team all-league selection, center Matt Waugh, and return only one starter on offense and one on defense. It could be another down year for Portsville, unless quarterback DJ Hlasnick can muster some magic under center. He was named second-team all-league last year and the hopes of grabbing a win in 2017 rest on his arm along with a combination of two-way players like Brendan Tobola, Noah Pullins and Brad Beemer. Portsville’s JV team went 0-6 last year.
Sept. 1 vs. Salamanca, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 at Allegany-Limestone, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Chautauqua Lake, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 vs. Cattaraugus/Little Valley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 at Randolph, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 vs. Nichols, 2 p.m.
Oct. 13 at Maple Grove, 7 p.m.
Cattaraugus-Little Valley Timberwolves (1-7)
Coach: Tim Miller, 22nd season
Home field: Timberwolf Stadium
Program founded: 2000
Outlook: The Timberwolves graduated only one all-league first-teamer, running back Drew Stevens, and they return three second-teamers. Top wide receiver Austin Baker, tackle Tim Ulinger and lineman Andrew Minnekine are all seniors that should help Cattaraugus-Little Valley out of the depths of Class D. The Timberwolves lost, 35-6, to Silver Creek/Forestville Central in the first round of the playoffs last year, but shuffling around in Class D could help Miller’s team make a jump. A dark horse contributor to keep an eye on: senior quarterback Dylan Bradfield. He’ll be in his first year starting, behind two notable offensive linemen, after missing most of 2016 due to injury.
Sept. 1 vs. V-Bishop Kearney, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 vs. Clymer/Sherman/Panama, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 vs. Salamanca, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 at Portville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 vs. Chautauqua Lake, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 at Silver Creek/Forestville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 vs. Randolph, 7 p.m.
Franklinville/Ellicottville Titans (7-3)
Coach: Chad Bartoszek, fifth season
Home field: Varies
Program founded: Merged in 2014
Outlook: The Titans have gone 22-7 since the two schools merged, and last season they fell just short of a second straight sectional championship in a 33-6 loss to Maple Grove in the Class D final. F/E returns five starters on offense and six on defense, led by quarterback/linebacker Brock Blecha. Blecha enters his second year as the starting signal-caller, and will receive help on offense from running back Griffin Chudy and tight end Sam Erickson. F/E junior varsity is 14-2 over the last two seasons, so graduations haven’t hurt the Titans too much when in need of rising talent. Expect that to be the case again with a senior-laden team looking to make another deep run.
Sept. 1 vs. Randolph (Franklinville), 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Maple Grove, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 vs. Salamanca (Ellicottville), 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 at JFK, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 6 at Chautauqua Lake, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 vs. Clymer/Sherman/Panama (Franklinville), 7 p.m.
Maple Grove Red Dragons (12-1)
Coach: Curt Fischer, 25th season
Home field: Maple Grove High School
Program founded: circa 1930
Outlook: The Red Dragons made it all the way to the Class D state final last season before losing to Cambridge in overtime, 22-21. There’s a lot of turnover at Maple Grove from last season to this one, including the graduations of all-league first-teamers that include the Class D offensive and defensive players of the year. Fischer has his sights set on returning to the state title game even with a revamped squad, which features first-team all-league tight end Nick Fabrizio, two-way player and second-team all-league selection Nash Nelson and two-way tackle Dave Brown. Nelson underwent offseason knee surgery and Fischer thought he might miss the season, but it looks like he’ll be good to go. Expect another deep run from the Red Dragons.
Sept. 1 vs. Gowanda/Pine Valley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 at Salamanca, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 vs. Franklinville/Ellicottville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 at Chautauqua Lake, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 at Clymer/Sherman/Panama (Clymer), 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 6 vs. Randolph, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 vs. Portville, 7 p.m.
Clymer/Sherman/Panama Wolfpack (5-4)
Coach: Ty Harper, fourth season
Home field: Varies
Program founded: Merged in 2015
Outlook: The Wolfpack returns more than half of its defensive starters but only four on the offensive side of the ball. Two-way lineman Thomas Delahoy should lead the bunch, at 6-foot-2 and 275 pounds, with 5-foot-6, 160-pound sparkplug Tanner Ramsey contributing significantly at running back and linebacker. Delahoy was named first-team all-league defense last year and Ramsey was an all-league honorable mention. CSP graduated four other first-team all leaguers: quarterback Nolan Eggleston, wideout Kolby Parks, tackle Mike Delcamp and linebacker Colt Miller. The Wolfpack lost in the first round of the playoffs to Randolph last season.
Sept. 2 vs. Falconer/Cass. Valley (Panama), 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 8 at Cattaraugus/Little Valley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Randolph, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 vs. Bishop Timon-St. Jude (Sherman), 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 30 vs. Maple Grove (Clymer), 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 6 at Salamanca, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 at Franklinville/Ellicottville (Franklinville), 7 p.m.
Randolph/Frewsburg Cardinals (N/A)
Coach: Brent Brown, fifth season
Home field: Raymond Van Wie Field
Program founded: 2017
Outlook: Due to lacking numbers, the programs from Frewsburg and Randolph combined earlier this month for the 2017 season. Randolph coach Brent Brown will head the merged team. Frewsburg’s side returns five starters on both offense and defense, while Randolph returns five on offense and six on defense. Frewsburg’s Trent Gray will likely start at quarterback, as he returns after a first-team all-league year last season. Randolph returns 6-foot-4 offensive lineman Andrew Bernard, another first-team all-league pick. Other players to watch are two-way lineman Bryce Gibbons and offensive linemen/linebackers Nick Becker and Devin Foster. In last year’s sectional tournament, Randolph upset CSP but lost in the semifinals, 28-0, to eventual champion Maple Grove. Frewsburg fell in the first round, 36-14, to eventual runner-up Franklinville/Ellicottville.
Sept. 1 at Franklinville/Ellicottville (Franklinville), 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 vs. Chautauqua Lake, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 vs. Clymer/Sherman/Panama, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 at Allegany-Limestone, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 vs. Portville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 at Maple Grove, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 at Cattaraugus/Little Valley, 7 p.m.