There have been some pleasant surprises through the first three weeks of the scholastic football season but one situation has played out exactly as expected.
The level of importance of games within Class A has increased exponentially as the season enters the fall portion of its schedule with four of the division's 11 teams still sporting perfect records.
That's something that will change this weekend with division leader Hamburg (3-0, 3-0) hosting Iroquois (3-0, 2-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday.
This game not only could impact the playoff seeding of its combatants but of other teams within the division. Since it'll be difficult for head-to-head tiebreakers to be used in determining playoff seeding in a league with an unbalanced schedule (not everyone plays each other), other tiebreakers -- including point differential and strength of schedule of common opponents -- could be used to separate teams with identical records that don't play each other.
"It's a pretty big game for us," Hamburg coach Mike McFadden said. "If we win this game, this could put us in the driver's seat for the top spot."
"It'll start to unfold because one of us will have a loss," Iroquois coach Frank Payne said. "It'll have an impact on everyone else."
Hamburg has league wins over Grand Island, Amherst and Williamsville East and still plays Kenmore East and Williamsville South.
Iroquois is the only one of the unbeatens scheduled to play the other perfect teams, doing so in back-to-back-to-back fashion. The Chiefs host defending state champion Sweet Home (3-0, 2-0) next Friday and then visit high-powered Williamsville South (3-0, 2-0) on Oct. 9.
"We like the position we're in," Payne said "[but] we can't look at the big picture. We have to take it one step at a time."
That's because Hamburg currently has the stingiest defense in the Section VI Federation. The Bulldogs have outscored their opponents, 87-9. While they'll be without standout junior linebacker Eric Chadderdon (dislocated shoulder), they still have cornerback Gavin Collins, who has five interceptions and a touchdown.
Jim Kloc (140 yards per game) and speedy Calvin Sluberski (235 all-purpose yards per game) lead Iroquois with five TDs each.
In Class AA, Lockport surprised many when it took defending state champion Orchard Park to overtime in Week One. The Lions (2-1, 1-0) look to prove that wasn't a fluke tonight when they face Section VI runner-up and defending AA North champ North Tonawanda (3-0, 3-0). Lockport hasn't had much success in recent years against NT, losing the past two seasons by scores of 48-20 and 41-13.
"If we eliminate [our] mistakes, we'll be competitive," said Lockport coach Greg Bronson.
In Class C North, unbeaten Wilson (3-0, 3-0) plays at unbeaten Eden (3-0, 3-0) on Saturday. The teams went a combined 4-13 last year.