Who's who: The six-team division includes the Albion Purple Eagles, Alden Bulldogs, Depew Wildcats, East Panthers, Medina Mustangs and Newfane Panthers.
This year's alignment shift: Class B again has three divisions, each of them reduced from seven to six teams this year. While B South kept its name, the other two divisions have changed: B Central and B North are out, replaced by B East and B West. The B East basically replaces B North, where Albion, Alden, Newfane and Medina were all together. Depew and East are newcomers (sliding over from the former B Central) while Lew-Port, Maryvale and Tonawanda moved to the new B West.
Last year's champion: Alden went undefeated with a dominant regular season, then recorded two more big wins over Lew-Port (42-10, quarterfinals) and Burgard (42-6, semifinals) to reach Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bulldogs won their first title in 27 years by beating Lackawanna, 14-12, thanks to a fourth-quarter touchdown run by Tyler Stoldt and a game-saving tackle by Nick Foss on a Lackawanna two-point conversion try with three minutes to play. Alden lost to eventual state champion Hornell, 21-14, in the Far West Regionals at All High Stadium.
2010 rewind: Alden was ranked behind a handful of B teams early on -- including Depew -- but kept climbing to finish atop the final small school poll. The Bulldogs finished one point ahead of Class C final four team Fredonia. Depew lost in the B quarterfinals at home to Lackawanna. East scored a big win over Cheektowaga last year but was ineligible for the playoffs (the Panthers are all set this year).
Last year's records: Alden 6-0, 10-1; Medina 5-1, 6-3; Albion 3-3, 4-5; Newfane 1-5, 3-6. Depew was 6-0, 8-1 and East was 4-2, 6-3 in B Central.
2010 All-Western New York underclassmen: Depew junior DL Jaden Cotton and Newfane junior K Sean Seefeldt were honorable mentions.
2010 all-league first-team underclassmen: Albion juniors DB Pete Nesbitt and LB Ryan Sosnowski, Newfane's Seefeldt at DB. Depew juniors RB Joe Miller and OL Andrew Burgio in B Central.
Pre-snap read: Fans were looking forward to a possible Alden and Depew matchup for most of last season -- it never came to fruition, but we're guaranteed a Friday night showdown this year in Week Five (Alden at Depew on Sept. 30). Medina and East will try and cause some trouble for the teams led by coaches Dick Diminuco (Alden) and Dan McGrath (Depew).
Week One must-see games: All of Class B kicks off with a nonleaguer, and one of the overall highlights of opening night has Cheektowaga visiting Depew. Medina hosts Eden on Friday, Sept. 2, while East hosts East Aurora at Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 3. Alden is participating in the Kickoff Classic at Syracuse's Carrier Dome as it takes on Cobleskill-Richmondville of Section II (Albany area) at 4 p.m. Sept. 3.
Scrimmage Saturday: The first day teams can scrimmage is Saturday. Depew is hosting four large schools in Bennett, Niagara Falls, South Park and Williamsville East at 10 a.m. Alden heads east to Attica of Section V while East and I-Prep/Grover line up at Wiley. Coaches should email firstname.lastname@example.org with scrimmage updates to the 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 28 different coaches and review the complete week-by-week schedule.
Live chats kick off next week: The first of the weekly Wednesday night live chats will be Aug. 31 at 8 p.m. at buffalonews.com.
The countdown continues: B West (Friday), A South (Saturday), A North (Sunday), AA South (Monday), AA North (Tuesday), Monsignor Martin (Wednesday). Review them all -- including B South and Class C, D and DD -- at buffalonews.com.
Season preview coming Sept. 1: The 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 one needs to know about the 2011 season.
-- Keith McShea