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

*Who's who: The six-team division consists of the Clarence Red Devils, Frontier Falcons, Jamestown Red Raiders, Lancaster Redskins, Orchard Park Quakers and West Seneca West Indians.

*This year's alignment shift: One of the historically strongest divisions in Western New York -- and that's all sports, not just football -- would have to probably be considered stronger this year after Bennett (one league win) dropped in classification to A South. The remaining six squads have been slugging it out in AA South for a long time.

*Last year's champion: Clarence made itself the AA favorite by beating Orchard Park, 37-28, in Week Two, then beat the Quakers again, 31-28, on a last-second field goal by Stephen Hughes for its first Section VI crown since 1998. In the Far West Regionals, the Red Devils fell behind by 21 at half but battled back to a 42-34 loss to Section V (Rochester area) winner Rush-Henrietta, which went on to win the state championship. Clarence's performance in the AA regional, combined with Sweet Home's big loss to Aquinas, enabled the Red Devils and outgoing 18-year coach Tom Goddard to reach the top of the Buffalo News large school poll. It was the first poll title for Clarence.

*2010 rewind: Clarence racked up huge win after huge win during a dominant season in which there were senior leaders on both sides of the ball: quarterback Zach Lauricella and linebacker Dominic Principale. The South continued to set its standard of strength in AA as Jamestown (which won at Riverside) joined Clarence and OP in the final four. OP's only two losses were to Clarence, and the Quakers finished third among large schools.

*Last year's records: Clarence 6-0, 10-1; Orchard Park 5-1, 8-2; Frontier 4-2, 6-3; Jamestown 3-3, 5-4; Lancaster 2-4, 3-6; Bennett 1-5, 3-6; West Seneca West 0-6, 1-7.

*2010 All-Western New York underclassmen: Three of the four All-WNY first teamers who were underclassmen were in this division: Clarence juniors RB Michael Gelz and OL Michael Arcuri and Orchard Park junior RB Okoya Anderson. Orchard Park junior WR Ben Johnson was a third teamer. Clarence junior K Stephen Hughes and sophomore P Dominic Webster as well as Orchard Park junior OL Devon Leach were honorable mentions.

*2010 all-league first-team underclassmen: Jamestown junior LB Ben Whitney and sophomore OL Cortland Haines; Frontier junior OL Marco Maronski; Orchard Park junior K Austin Reese along with OP's Anderson and Johnson; Clarence's Arcuri, Gelz and Webster.

*Pre-snap read: Clarence has a new leader as assistant Mark Layer takes over for Goddard, but there are some key components back from last year. The same can be said for OP, which is surely eager to reclaim its spot atop the division. Lancaster, Frontier and Jamestown will all -- as usual -- provide tough tests. Five historically very strong teams, but only four playoff spots.

*Week One must-see games: In a very eventful opening weekend, there is only one league game kicking off, but it could potentially be huge in the playoff race as Frontier visits Lancaster Friday night. Also Friday, Jamestown hosts Niagara Falls and West Seneca West takes on East Syracuse-Minoa in the Kickoff Classic at Syracuse's Carrier Dome. There are two tremendous AA crossover games on Saturday between teams that all made the AA playoffs: Orchard Park is at Kenmore West at 2 while Clarence is at Riverside at 4.

*Scrimmage Saturday: Teams were able to hit the field for scrimmages for the first time on Saturday. Check buffalonews.com for a PrepTalkTV report (including Orchard Park's scrimmage with Canisius), a photo gallery and a running account of visits to scrimmages on the Prep Talk blog -- the blog includes 34 additional videos, including action from Frontier, West Seneca West.

*Live chats kick off next week: The first of the weekly Wednesday night live chats will be this Wednesday at 8 p.m. at buffalonews.com.

*At buffalonews.com: In addition to the scrimmage coverage, watch the first PrepTalkTV episode of the season as Lauren Mariacher reported on the first day of practice (including at Clarence), check out video interviews with 31 different coaches and review the complete week-by-week schedule.

*The countdown continues: AA North (Tuesday), Monsignor Martin (Wednesday). Review them all -- including Class A, B, C, D and DD -- at buffalonews.com.

*Season preview coming Thursday: 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.

*Attention coaches & ADs -- rosters needed ASAP: If coaches have not done so already, they need to email a roster -- in spreadsheet form -- to kmcshea@buffnews.com as soon as possible. Spreadsheet forms have been emailed to all coaches and athletic directors.

-- Keith McShea