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High School Football / Countdown to Friday Night Lights -- Class DD

*Last year's champion: None. This is a new eight-team division consisting of Chautauqua Lake, Franklinville, Pine Valley, Forestville, Panama, Clymer and the combined teams of Ellicottville/West Valley and Sherman/Ripley.

*2010 rewind: Only Pine Valley (from the old D East) and Chautauqua Lake (from the old D West) were among last year's eight Class D playoff teams. Chautauqua Lake advanced to the D semifinals before losing to eventual D champion Silver Creek.

*This year's alignment shift: Class DD is a new league formed in cooperation with its schools and Section VI. Class DD teams are not eligible for the state tournament -- the league will conduct its own playoffs which will conclude with semifinals in Week Eight and a championship in Week Nine (DD will also hold consolation bowl games for its other four teams in those weeks).

*Pre-snap read: It should be a more competitive season and a better experience for the DD schools -- as well as those in the strong, competitive Class D (Randolph, Silver Creek, Frewsburg, Portville, I-Prep at Grover Cleveland and Maple Grove). In recent seasons there had been a divide of haves and have-nots which often resulted in blowouts.

*Last year's records: In D East: Pine Valley 4-4, Ellicottville/West Valley 2-6, Forestville 1-6, Franklinville 0-8. In D West: Chautauqua Lake 6-3, Sherman/Ripley 4-4, Panama 1-6, Clymer 1-6.

*2010 all-league underclassmen: All were juniors -- Nick Fischer and Brent Morrison (Chautauqua Lake), Zak Fisher (Ellicottville), Don Kopp (Franklinville), Tyler Marsh (Panama), Robert McKeever (Pine Valley).

*Week One must-see games: All eight teams are paired up in league games, with last year's winningest team in Chautauqua Lake kicking off at Ellicottville on Friday night.

*Scrimmage Saturday: The first day teams can scrimmage is next Saturday, Aug. 27. Chautauqua Lake and Clymer will be at Cassadaga Valley. Coaches should email kmcshea@buffnews.com with updates to our complete list at the Prep Talk blog at buffalonews.com.

*At buffalonews.com: Watch the first PrepTalkTV episode of the 2011-12 season from the first day of practice, check out video interviews with 25 different coaches and review the complete week-by-week schedule.

*The countdown continues: Class D (Sunday), C South (Monday), C North (Tuesday), B South (Wednesday), B East (Thursday), B West (Friday), A South (Aug. 27), A North (Aug. 28), AA South (Aug. 29), AA North (Aug. 30), Monsignor Martin (Aug. 31). You'll be able to review them all at buffalonews.com.

*Season preview coming Sept. 1: Our annual preview issue will have capsules and schedules for all 82 teams in Western New York along with feature stories, a must-see cover and everything else you need to know about the 2011 season.

-- Keith McShea