If you are a football fan who is a regular visitor of the Prep Talk blog, you undoubtedly know the name of Milt Latimer, the very active contributor who is a huge fan of high school football (and one Chiefs team in particular) :-).
Here's his take on the 2011 season:
A look at the various classes and how they they shape up.
Orchard Park looks to regain the title after a two year hiatus. They’ll feature dynamic offensive weapons in RB Okoya Anderson and WR Ben Johnson. Quakers also will have a good line with T Mike Senn and G Austin Bauer, who also provides a great kicking game.
Clarence is a program that is moving in the right direction and hope to repeat with huge RB Mike Gelz and Trench candidate Mike Arcuri. Replacing QB Zach Lauricella and LB Anthony Principale provide some question marks for the Red Devils.
The team to watch in the North Division is Kenmore West, who return their backfield in QB Marcus Lobdell, RB Martin Bailey, and RB Nick Hersey.
Teams that could surprise are Jamestown, with bookend Tackles in John Czech and Cortland Haines, and Frontier who have QB Jimmy May back. Riverside should provide a test with QB Jeremiah Cormack and Back D’Yontae Parker. Lancaster is always a tough test, and will rely on QB Ryan Radtke, but must get solid play from an inexperienced line.
Predicted order of finish: South (OP, Clarence, Jamestown, Lancaster, Frontier, WSW), North (Ken West, Riverside, Lockport, Niagara Falls, Niagara-Wheatfield, Hutch-Tech).
Playoffs: OP cruises to Ralph, Clarence wins battle vs Ken West in Semis, OP takes VI AA crown.
Sweet Home just reloads. QB Jordan Johnson is the most dangerous running signal caller in the area. Panthers will also have depth with Tim Oaks, Juwon Douglas, and Rashaad Rogers.
North Tonawanda, two years removed from winning a State AA title, moves down to A and benefits from not playing Sweet Home in the regular season. Lumberjacks’ RB Tyler Durham looks to have a big year.
Amherst might have the most speed in Class A this year with transfer Justin Burke, but will look for answers on the line.
Iroquois returns a solid nucleus in WR Madison Wesolowski, RB Jimmy Kloc (State Champ in wrestling), and LBs Tyler Miller and Mason Bonafede, but will take the field under a new Head Coach after Frank Payne’s departure.
Williamsville South has questions after the graduation of “The Trio” (Licata, Stasiak, O’Connell), but have some experience in lineman TJ Scamurra, and backs Billy Jaccobi, Sammy Hasan, and Timmy Lamar.
Lake Shore’s RB Pat Gilman has serious breakaway speed and is dangerous anytime he has the ball. West Seneca East has backfield talent in Andy Smigera, Scott Ackerman, and Dante Page, but the trenches provide more questions than answers.
South Park has returning starters in QB Maurice Howie, RB Dylan VanVolkenburg, and WR Chaquille Nettles.
McKinley must replace some graduation losses but have playmakers in WRs Stephon Johnson, Jon Flanagan, and RB Kwame Duah.
Williamsville North drops down from AA and will have a battle with Williamsville East, who made a run last year with Mike Wheeler, Mitch Wagner, and Trent Miller.
Starpoint will miss RB Tyler Robinson, but Cory Regnet and OL Shane Knibbs will lead the way.
Grand Island is always well coached, but will be inexperienced this year.
Predicted order of finish: South (this division could go in several different directions, Amherst is at Iroquois in Week 1 and could set the tone for the season) (Iroquois, Amherst, Will South, WSE, Lake Shore, Hamburg, South Park, Bennett), North (Sweet Home, NT, Will East, McKinley, Will North, Starpoint, GI, Ken East)
Playoffs: Sweet Home is poised to make another Ralph run but might not have as many weapons as in year’s past. I envision NT making a run as their Option offense will be a new look to opponents. Parity abounds in Class A, as I can see any of 6 teams with enough to face Sweet Home at the Ralph. NT beats Iroquois in a low scoring Semi. Sweet Home will face Aquinas in the Far West Regionals again.
With three divisions, every game will not only be important for making the playoffs, but determining playoff position.
Alden and Depew are both in the East Division and meet in Week 5, with the loser needing to win on the road in the playoffs to reach the Ralph.
Alden is a well coached team (Dick Diminuco) and return Trench candidate Josh Chase and RB Justin Patterson. Depew has a fantastic core in QB Aaron Ertel, RB Joe Miller, and Linemen Andrew Burgio and Jaden Cotton (University of Buffalo commit).
Defending South Division champion Pioneer caught a break with Lackawanna moving to the West Division and has Tony Lock and Cory Vail returning.
Lackawanna looks to be the head of the West with RB Keith Taggart, but will have a challenge from Burgard’s Corvonte Jones and Robert Sanders.
Some other key players to watch include Medina’s QB Scott Rogenmaser, Newfane’s QB Sean Seefeldt, Albion’s RB Pete Nesbitt, Olean’s RB Maleke Fuetes, Tonawanda’s RB Justin Bacon, and Dunkirk’s Kyle Utegg.
Predicted order of finish: East (Depew, Alden, East, Albion, Medina, Newfane), West (Lackawanna, Burgard, Cheektowaga, Tonawanda, Maryvale, Lew-Port), South (Pioneer, Dunkirk, Eden, EA, Olean, Springville).
Playoffs: Depew looks to have the most well rounded team with backfield experience and a monster line. Alden and Lackawanna are both poised to be in position, while Pioneer and Burgard will be tough opponents. Depew wins a rematch with Alden at The Ralph.
Class C looks a bit more wide open this year, with a few more teams that could contend.
Cleveland Hill was young last year and return a good crop with Daryl Spence, Davonte Davis, Jonathan Thomas, and Corey Davis. They also add Corey Madlock, a Trench candidate transferring from Canisius.
Fredonia moves into the North Division and return Dylan Cassidy, Zach Buckley, and Nick Nosek from their 2010 title team.
Southwestern is extremely well coached and still have Jake Swan, Tyler Uber, and Dan Austin from their 2009 State Title team.
Some key players to watch are Lafayette’s lineman Anthony Rogers, who dominated in Class A last year, Salamanca’s RB Ben Haas will run over 1000 yds again this year, JFK QB Christian Boettcher, Gowanda’s QB Alex Sternisha, Wilson’s Pat Walch, Cassadaga Valley’s Mike Lanphere, and Allegheny-Limestone’s RB Josh Harrington.
Predicted order of finish: North (Cleve Hill, Fredonia, Lafayette, Wilson, Gowanda, Akron, JFK) South (SW, Salamanca, Cass Valley, Falconer, All-Lime, Catt/LV, Westfield).
Playoffs: It’s a three team race between Cleve Hill, Fredonia, and Southwestern with Lafayette in the mix to surprise everyone. Southwestern catches some breaks with playoff seedings and beats Cleve Hill at the Ralph.
New this year is the separation of the schools into D and DD with the D schools being eligible to win the VI title.
Randolph, Maple Grove, Silver Creek, Portville, Grover, and Frewsburg will form the best Class D division in the State.
Randolph looks tough this year returning an entire backfield that were All-Division last year. John Morgante, Brett Robbins, and Brady Morrison will be tough to stop.
Silver Creek did manage to stop Randolph last year and return Zeddie Williams and huge lineman Andrew Stockman.
Maple Grove has Alex Grace and John Nickerson back.
The wildcard in D this year is I-Prep (Grover), who move down from Class C. Grover has strength/speed in Ikeem Lyons and Davonte Whitsett.
Portville has a good nucleus in Colt Lowe, Zach Pilger, and Chris Hellwig.
The DD schools are the smallest of the small, but have some talented athletes.
Players to watch are Panama’s RB Cody Didomenico, who’ll rack up yardage this year, Clymer’s lineman Ryan Phelps, Sherman’s Cody Graczyk, Chautauqua lake’s Nick Fisher, and Ellicottville’s Cam Wilson.
Predicted order of finish: D (Randolph, Maple Grove, Grover, Silver Creek, Portville, Frewsburg), D (Chautauqua Lake, Clymer, Panama, Pine Valley, Sherman, Ellicottville, Forestville, Franklinville).
Playoffs: Randolph will win VI and be state champs. They’ll have a good battle at the Ralph against the winner of the Maple Grove-Grover semi.
MONSIGNOR MARTIN ASSOCIATION
Some of the biggest prospects in WNY football reside in MMA this year.
St. Joe’s QB Chad Kelly is headed to Clemson as one of the top QB recruits in the country. Look for him to get the ball to Nigel Davis and Ilo Noble. While Kelly might be the X factor, both Canisius and St. Francis look to have more depth this year.
Canisius has QB Chris Jugovic, RB Mercer Timmis protected by linemen Jack Plunkett, and Canadian transfer Ryan Hunter.
St. Francis has Boston College RB recruit Akeel Lynch surrounded by lineman Joe Smith and big Miles Bartholomew. Raudric Parks is tough. The question mark for Frannies will be if QB John Melisz can get the ball to WR Gabe Tasker and Alex Misterman.
Timon has some athletes in Ryan Dougherty and Dan Hall but lack the depth of the Big Three. The MMA is now one division, so perennial Small school O’Hara will look to compete with the big boys with Kyree Carter, Larry Middlebrooks, and Khari Wright.
Predicted order of finish: This could go any way at the top, depending upon a key injury. (St. Francis, Canisius, St. Joe’s, O’Hara, Timon, St. Mary’s)
Playoffs: Last year, Chad Kelly was a one man wrecking crew leading the Marauders to the title, and he might do it again this year, but a healthy Akeel Lynch or Mercer Timmis might lead their teams this time around. St. Francis nips Canisius at the Ralph.
You'll be sure to hear from Milt this season, especially during our weekly live chats.