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High School Football / Countdown to Friday Night Lights -- Class A South

*Who's who: The eight-team division consists of the Amherst Tigers, Bennett Tigers, Hamburg Bulldogs, Iroquois Chiefs, Lake Shore Eagles, South Park Sparks, West Seneca East Trojans and Williamsville South Billies.

*This year's alignment shift: We find the largest divisions in Section VI in Class A, which have both been expanded from seven teams to eight. In the South, all of the movement involved Buffalo Public Schools teams: Bennett dropped down from AA South and South Park moved up from Class B Central while Lafayette slid down. At the time the alignments were determined, Lafayette did not have a program; the Class B-sized school will compete in C North this year but will be ineligible for the playoffs. The eight-team divisions result in imbalanced league schedules: In the seven-week season, Class A teams will play six of the seven teams in their division along with one nonleague game.

*Last year's champion: Williamsville South went undefeated until the Class A title game at Ralph Wilson Stadium, where it lost a highly anticipated final to Sweet Home, 48-15.

*2010 rewind: The Billies had little trouble in league play behind an offense that included Player of the Year Joe Licata, the UB signee who broke the WNY career yardage and touchdown records during the season, as well as Phil Stasiak and Kevin O'Connell. South was the only A South team in the Class A final four: Amherst finished second in the division and lost in the quarterfinals to visiting McKinley; third-place Iroquois lost at Williamsville East. The final playoff spot in the division went to 2-4 Lafayette, which owned the head-to-head tiebreaker with Lake Shore.

*Last year's records: Williamsville South 6-0, 9-1; Amherst 6-3, 5-1; Iroquois 4-2, 4-4; Lake Shore 2-4, 3-6; West Seneca East 1-5, 2-6; Hamburg 1-5, 1-7; Bennett 1-5, 3-6 in AA North; South Park 2-4, 2-7 in B Central.

*2010 All-Western New York underclassmen: Amherst junior DB Marquis Artis and Williamsville South junior OL T.J. Scamurra were both honorable mentions.

*2010 all-league first-team underclassmen: Amherst's Artis (also the league's Defensive Player of the Year) and junior WR Brandon Borden; Williamsville South juniors Scamurra and DB Sam Hasan; Lake Shore junior DB Patrick Gilman; Hamburg junior K Nate Gorell. South Park junior DB Nick Woodard and sophomore WR Chaquile Nettles in B Central. Bennett junior WR Javon Fogan in AA North.

*Pre-snap read: It shapes up as a very intriguing season. Williamsville South has graduated a group of players who will be talked about for a long, long time. Many expect a drop-off, but the Billies should still be considered a favorite in a division where there is a lot going on. On paper, next up is Amherst, which has momentum from last year along with Artis -- who is on a short list of returning players who won individual awards in their league last season. At Iroquois, Keith Marshall takes over after coach Frank Payne's successful 11-year run. Bennett (also with a new coach in Steve McDuffie) and South Park -- two of just four city programs not to make the playoffs last year -- have high hopes that a change of league scenery might lead to a turnaround to a winning season and a playoff spot. That's certainly also the aim for the Southtowns trio of possible rebound programs Lake Shore, Hamburg and West Seneca East.

*Week One must-see games: A great game to kick off this league has Amherst at Iroquois on Friday night. Last year, Amherst beat the Chiefs, 28-27, in double overtime in Week Six to secure its second-place standing. We'll learn a lot about teams coming off very different seasons in a South-vs.-South opener as Will South takes on South Park at Riverside.

*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 30 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: A North (Sunday), AA South (Monday), AA North (Tuesday), Monsignor Martin (Wednesday). Review them all -- including Class B, 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

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Today is the first day high school football teams in New York State can scrimmage.

Grand Island, North Tonawanda, St. Francis, Sweet Home, Williamsville South and Lockport at Lockport's Emmet Belknap School, 9 a.m.

Eden, Springville, Tonawanda and West Seneca East at Cheektowaga, 9 a.m.

Williamsville North, Kenmore West and Starpoint at Clarence, 9 a.m.

Burgard, Cardinal O'Hara and Silver Creek at Cleveland Hill, 9 a.m.

V-Batavia at Albion, 9 a.m.

Randolph at Southwestern, 9 a.m.

Lancaster at V-Webster-Schroeder, 9 a.m.

Wilson at Medina, 9:30 a.m.

Pine Valley at Westfield, 9:30 a.m.

Panama at Forestville, 10 a.m.

Canisius at Orchard Park, 10 a.m.

St. Joe's at Cathedral Prep (Erie, Pa), TBA

Bennett, Niagara Falls, South Park and Williamsville East at Depew, 10 a.m.

Bishop Timon-St. Jude, Maple Grove and McKinley at Riverside, 10 a.m.

East Aurora, Fredonia, Hamburg and Jamestown at Jamestown's Strider Field, 10 a.m.

Chautauqua Lake, Clymer and Lafayette at Cassadaga Valley, 10 a.m.

V-Charles Finney at Nichols, 10 a.m.

Alden at V-Attica, 10 a.m.

V-Hornell at Olean, 10 a.m.

Pioneer at Salamanca at Salamanca's Veteran's Park, 10 a.m.

East and I-Prep/Grover at Johnnie B. Wiley Stadium, 10 a.m.

Lake Shore, St. Mary's and Dunkirk at Maryvale, 10 a.m.

JFK and V-Perry at V-Pembroke, TBA

Frontier, Lackawanna, Niagara-Wheatfield at Iroquois, 4 p.m.

Hutch-Tech, Kenmore East, West Seneca West at Amherst, 5 p.m.

Go to the Prep Talk blog at buffalonews.com for Keith McShea's reports from various scrimmages.