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High School Football / Countdown to Friday Night Lights -- Class C North

*Who's who: The seven-team division consists of the Akron Tigers, Cleveland Hill Golden Eagles, Fredonia Hillbillies, Gowanda Panthers, Lafayette Mighty Violets, JFK Bears and Wilson Lakemen.

*This year's alignment shift: There are many changes in this league, which gets beefed up after competing with just five teams last year and has more new faces than old (just three teams return in playoff squads Cleveland Hill, Gowanda and Wilson). The division trades out one champion (I-Prep at Grover won this division last year but has moved down to D) for another in defending Class C titlest Fredonia. Roy-Hart left the division after the schedule was arranged (Roy-Hart has formed a team with Barker which will compete in Section V's Class A) and is replaced by Lafayette. The city school, which was thought to be closing, was resurrected -- also after the schedule came out -- and it slid into Roy-Hart's spot. Noteworthy is that Lafayette is a Class B school by enrollment so it will not be eligible for the postseason. Finally, Akron and JFK join the division after sliding down from Class B. Whew!

*Last year's champion: I-Prep at Grover won the division before losing to visiting Fredonia, 45-20, in the Class C semifinals at All High Stadium. Fredonia was the only Section VI team to advance to the state semifinals, losing to Section III (Syracuse) champion General Brown.

*2010 rewind: I-Prep/Grover went undefeated in the regular season. Cleveland Hill began the season 3-0 and was ranked in the top 10 before a 20-16 loss to I-Prep/Grover in Week Four. Cleveland Hill, Gowanda and Wilson all made the playoffs but suffered big losses (by at least 22 points) to C South teams in the first round.

*Last year's records: Wilson 3-2, 4-5; Cleveland Hill, 2-3, 6-3; Gowanda 1-4, 2-7. Fredonia was 5-1, 10-2 in C South. Akron was 1-5, 1-8 and JFK was 1-5, 1-8 in Class B Central. Lafayette was 2-5, 3-6 in A South and made the playoffs.

*2010 All-Western New York underclassman: Cleveland Hill junior QB Daryl Spencer was an honorable mention.

*2010 all-league first-team underclassmen: Cleveland Hill juniors Spencer and DL Davonte Davis and sophomore DB Jonathan Thomas; Gowanda juniors QB Alex Sternisha, OL Nick Jackson and LB Christian Francis; Wilson juniors LB Pat Walch and LB Cam Siddote. JFK juniors OL Mike Wild and K/P Jimmy Quinn in B Central; Fredonia junior DB Dylan Cassidy in C South.

*Pre-snap read: Just getting the 'who's who' straight will be a formidible task. On paper, Fredonia has to be considered a favorite not only after its title, but since it is coming from a South division which had the upper hand on the North last season. Then there is traditional power Cleveland Hill and resurgent Wilson. Lafayette, despite its recent turmoil and non-playoff status, should be a tough out. Akron and JFK drop down but are going from one competitive small school league to another.

*Week One must-see games: Postseason teams Wilson and Gowanda meet on Friday night, starting 2011 like they finished 2010 -- the host Lakemen won a 15-6 consolation game against the Panthers after both lost in the playoffs. On Saturday there's a nice annual nonleague meeting of rivals as Maryvale visits Cleveland Hill.

*Scrimmage Saturday: The first day teams can scrimmage is Saturday. One of the earliest -- and best -- small-school gatherings each year is hosted by Cleveland Hill, which welcomes fellow powers Burgard, Cardinal O'Hara and Silver Creek at 9 a.m. Fredonia is part of a nice gathering at 10 a.m. at Jamestown with East Aurora and Hamburg. Coaches should email kmcshea@buffnews.com with updates to our complete list, which is available at the Prep Talk blog at buffalonews.com.

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

*The countdown continues: B South (Wednesday), B East (Thursday), B West (Friday), A South (Saturday), A North (Sunday), AA South (Aug. 29), AA North (Aug. 30), Monsignor Martin (Aug. 31). Review them all -- including Class DD, D and C South -- 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