Every week of the football season, nine voters rate Western New York's best teams from 1 to 10 in the large and small school polls (published in the Sidelines of each Tuesday's Scholastic Spotlight). The News has one vote in each poll.
And this week (I wrote about "Who's No. 2?" in the the Prep Talk column in today's paper):
1. Orchard Park (5-0) [last week: 1] - Close call at Frontier, but Falcons gave them a scare last year, too. We'll see what happens when Lancaster visits Saturday.
2. Canisius (2-2) [NR] - Every one of the candidates for No. 2 has significant flaws. But none has a resume which includes nearly knocking off a state champion.
3. Sweet Home (5-0)  - Seem to be picking up speed lately. And they were fast enough.
4. Frontier (2-3)  - Welcome to part one of the "What have you done for me lately?" portion of the ballot. Nearly taking down OP goes a long way in our book. We're conveniently overlooking the one-point home loss to Jamestown (we've filed that under anomaly) and the one-touchdown loss at Clarence (we're also sending a team of football CSIs to investigate how those happened), not to mention a three-game losing streak. Stunningly out of the playoffs. With so much football left to play, this might be as high as these Falcons fly.
5. North Tonawanda (5-0)  - In a topsy-turvy week for this ballot, they stay put. Still five dominant wins, still five opponents that never came close to making this list. Sure, the easy way out is to put the team with five blowouts at No. 2 (just look at our poll).
6. Grand Island (4-1)  - Vikings, who also stay put, are putting on quite a show lately. Again, it put up a victory that was as thorough, if not more so, than one of Sweet Home's at Will South.
7. Lancaster (4-1)  - Frontier's close call with OP makes Clarence's 48-0 home loss to OP look a lot worse, which makes Lancaster's 6-0 win over Clarence this past weekend a little more ho-hum. But still, a tough win over an AA South team and a 4-1 record. Their turn up against the OP measuring stick comes Saturday afternoon.
8. Iroquois (5-0)  - Part II of "What have you done for me lately?" The Chiefs go to the place where its season was knocked off track last year, and its win at Cheektowaga (16-7) isn't nearly on par, margin-of-victory-wise, with Williamsville South (27-13 win at Cheektowaga in Week One) or West Seneca East (20-0 win at Cheektowaga in Week Two). We know Cheektowaga has gotten better, but we frankly thought Chiefs would be, ahem, better than their better. Looking at all the A North scores, they all pointed to Iroquois winning this game big.
9. St. Francis (0-4)  - They hold their spot after a bye week. They could have beaten Aquinas too, but Canisius' performance against the Little Irish was better. Finally: Canisius-Frannies on Saturday.
10. Clarence (3-2)  - See Frontier above. And really, despite the Clarence victory, can you rank Clarence (48-0 loss at home to OP) ahead of Frontier (14-12 loss at home to OP)? They hold on to this spot ahead of Riverside, Jamestown and St. Joe's.
1. Cleveland Hill (5-0)  - It is uncanny the way the top three keep stepping up each week. The Steelers are coming hard, but we're sticking with the Golden Eagles.
2. Lackawanna (5-0)  - Forceful win at Fredonia puts them deservedly up a spot.
3. Southwestern (5-0)  - Their sliding down is all about the value of Lackawanna's win. The top three are very, very good.
4. Alden (5-0) - Make that the top four are very, very good. Bulldogs haven't been scored on in 14 quarters.
5. Maple Grove (5-0)  - Move up one spot due to ...
6. Fredonia (4-1)  - ... Class B attrition.
7. Depew (4-1)  - Very nice win at Albion, their fourth in a row after dropping opener to Alden was at Albion, which is enough to have them leapfrog ...
8. East Aurora (3-2)  - ... the Blue Devils, who host Lackawanna in Week Eight. Next is a trap -- I mean trip -- to Springville.
9. Allegany-Limestone (4-1)  - About as expected against Southwestern. We'll keep them here. Silver Creek could make a case for this spot right now; they have a much better chance to make a case Saturday (at A-L).
10. Maryvale (2-3) [NR] - The team that was here last week was St. Mary's, which lost, 57-14, at Cleveland Hill. The Flyers lost to Cleveland Hill, 6-0, in Week One; lost to No. 4 Alden in Week Two (by 14) and to No. 7 Depew in Week Three (by eight). We'll give them this spot for now as they head into a key game at Tonawanda; Silver Creek, Portville, Randolph, Clymer are waiting to take it away, and St. Mary's could be back.
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