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How The News voted: Week Eight

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.

Here's how we filled out our ballot in the preseason and Weeks One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and Seven.

And this week:

1. Orchard Park (8-0) [last week: 1] - Regular season win over Niagara-Wheatfield: 47-6. Playoff win over Niagara-Wheatfield: 70-13. Regular season win over Kenmore West: 44-6. Playoff win over Kenmore West? Follow the numbers and you get something like 63-13.

2. Sweet Home (8-0) [2] - Two shutouts in a row. We still like them in what most see as -- for now -- a three-horse race for "Who's No. 2?"

3. Canisius (4-3) [3] - Took care of business at Timon. The way things are trending, this weekend's rivalry game might not be pretty.

4. North Tonawanda (8-0) [4] - "Hey, Keith, can we get some respect now maybe?" said a fan behind me while I pounded away on my laptop just off the field (and in front of the bleachers). "What do we have to do, beat Dallas?"

Obviously a very impressive win over Clarence. Fun to watch a team having so much fun together. I still give a slight edge to the two teams above, however. This is totally out of their control, but NT's big wins end up having a "but" to them. They crushed St. Joe's -- but Joe's then lost to O'Hara and then to a similar margin to St. Francis. They rout Clarence -- but Devils' ground game was gutted by their starting center being out and top back getting hurt in the first quarter. Totally within their control, however: This week, perhaps next week, and maybe beyond? 

5. Grand Island (7-1) [5] - Showed some quality grit in the rain. Just for the record: GI 42-20 at Starpoint in Week Six; Iroquois 42-41 over visiting Starpoint last week.

6. Lancaster (7-1) [6] - Another year, another Week Eight, another trip to NT. But another trip to The Ralph?

7. Kenmore West (6-2) [NR] - Totally deserve this spot after shutout of Jamestown. Ding-dong, the spectre of the AA South just might be dead (more on that later).

8. St. Francis (1-6) [10] - Record against WNY: 1-1 with a 10-point loss to
our No. 3 team. Won at St. Joe's by 29; NT beat Joe's at home by 32.

9. Riverside (6-1) [NR] - This is a very good team. I kept waiting for their Grover game (this Saturday) to see if I could move them from just outside to just inside the top 10, but their domination of their league (four straight shutouts, 21 total points allowed - and that was in the first two weeks) earns them a spot.

Sidenote: If you think these purple-and-gold Frontiers are worth a vote (they earned 11 other points in the poll), then St. Francis is definitely worth a vote as well, based on their respective performances against Aquinas. 

10. Frontier (5-3) [9] - Having them here might make about as much sense as the AA South, where Jamestown wins close road games over Clarence and Frontier but doesn't score a point the last two weeks (Sweet Home and Kenmore West), where Clarence beat Frontier but isn't vote-eligible now, especially without their best player. The AA South spectre got fuzzier with NT beating Clarence and even Falls beating West Seneca West. So why are the Falcons here? Two-point loss to Orchard Park, Lancaster's only loss, and I'd take the Falcons against the rest of the pack.

Second-and-five: Our next best are Iroquois, West Seneca East, Grover Cleveland, Clarence, Williamsville South. I've knocked Iroquois down my chart for a few weeks now based on the results: close calls in the regular season to Cheektowaga and West Seneca East, big loss at home to Clarence, and now another close call against the Class A North's fourth-place team in Starpoint.

(Just FYI for the Who's-No. 8-poll: No disrespect to West Seneca East, but they're not in there because of the head-to-head loss to Iroquois).

Small schools

1. Lackawanna (8-0) [1] - Steelers steamrolling along.

2. Cleveland Hill (8-0) [3] - A 12-0 win over Salamanca not enough for you? It shouldn't be -- Salamanca played tough at Southwestern, too (30-14 in Week Six).

3. Southwestern (8-0) [4] - Trojans looking very good, routing JFK (43-8) a week after the Bears gave rival Cleveland Hill fits.

4. Alden (8-0) [2] - When the teams at the top of this poll are so good and so tightly bunched, a 14-0 home win over Springville will get you knocked down a couple of pegs. Springville is a tough team, but they lost at home to EA by 30 two weeks ago.

5. Maple Grove (8-0)
[5] - 70 points. Yikes. And now, the game we've been waiting all season for.

6. Fredonia (7-1) [6] - These guys might be moving up next week.

7. Depew (6-2) [8] - After Week One, how many thought they'd be one win away from another trip to The Ralph?

8. Portville (7-1) [10] - Maple Grove's not the only Class D team rolling along.

9. Silver Creek (7-1) [NR] - Game vs. Cleve Hill (at Frontier!) should be another very good one -- Silver Creek shut out Salamanca, 21-0.

10. Randolph (6-2) [NR] - Maple Grove and Portville aren't the only Class D teams rolling along. Can't make this stuff up -- start 0-2 for second year in a row, now try to derail Maple Grove again.

Second-and-5: East Aurora, Maryvale, Cardinal O'Hara, Clymer, Allegany-Limestone.

Don't like what you're reading? The comment space is below. Or visit here Wednesday night at 7 for a live chat with yours truly.

---Keith McShea

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