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Your guide to a Week Five feast; Blockbuster matchups fill WNY schedule

Will Orchard Park get its revenge on Clarence? Will St. Francis and Akeel Lynch be able to outscore St. Joe's and Chad Kelly? Will Depew be able to wrestle the No. 1 small school spot from Alden?

Not only will all of those questions be answered, the most fervent high school football fan will be able to see all of those matchups during what is the weekend of the regular season. Week Five is here, and with it comes those showdowns and many others.

It's hard to imagine a better lineup of three top games. In two of them, teams at the top of both News polls will meet (No. 2 Clarence at No. 1 OP in large schools; No. 1 Alden at No. 2 Depew in small). The other? It's between the two large schools tied for the No. 3 spot (St. Joe's at St. Francis).

All of the games feature defending champions, with two of them rematches of last year's title games. Clarence beat Orchard Park, 31-28, for last year's Section VI Class AA crown. St. Joe's beat St. Francis, 49-20, in the Monsignor Martin final. Alden is the defending Section VI B champion.

This weekend, unbeatens will fall, playoff fates will be affected and The News football polls could get a jolt.

Here's your day-by-day, hour-by-hour guide to what's in store:

*Alden at Depew (7:30 p.m. Friday): Depew (4-0, 3-0) got off to a great start with a Week One win over Cheektowaga (which has since moved up the polls to No. 6), thanks to freshman running back Rodney Turner and huge linemen like University at Buffalo signee Jaden Cotten (6-foot-6, 331) and Anthony Burgio (6-2, 292). The Wildcats seem to be big every year. Alden (4-0, 2-0) arrives with its own major ground game built around 5-foot-8, 178-pound Justin Patterson, who astonishingly needs just 62 yards to hit the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Sophomore Brian Stoldt has made a seemingly seamless transition in taking over the quarterbacking duties from older brother Tyler.

*Maple Grove at Randolph (7:30 p.m. Friday): These two teams are a big part of the reason that Section VI is considered to have some of the strongest Class D football in the state. Randolph (4-0, 3-0) is ranked second in the state; Maple Grove (4-0, 3-0) is fifth.

*Clarence at Orchard Park (noon Saturday): Orchard Park (4-0, 3-0) doesn't get beat at Ralph Wilson Stadium often, and it doesn't often lose twice to the same team in the same season. Clarence (4-0, 2-0) did both last year, backing up a Week Three, 37-28 statement win at home with a victory in a classic sectional final. Then-junior Stephen Hughes attempted -- and made -- the first career field goal try of his career with three seconds left, a 37-yarder.

Orchard Park, which had a five-year championship win streak from 2004 to '08 and has appeared at The Ralph for eight of the last nine years, remains explosive on offense with Okoya Anderson (6-1, 205) at running back and Ben Johnson and Austin Goltz catching passes from first-year senior quarterback David Crowley (seven touchdowns). Clarence standout running back Michael Gelz (6-1, 240) has run-you-over ability. The 6-3, 200-pound Mark Armstrong is a rare combination of defensive end and quarterback while junior Alec Dietsch is a playmaker at linebacker.

*Several games at 2 p.m. Saturday: The usual time slot for many games features more showdowns. Kenmore West (3-1, 3-0) is at Lockport (3-1, 2-0) in a battle for first place in AA North. Fredonia (4-0, 3-0) is at Cleveland Hill (4-0, 3-0) for the top spot in C North. McKinley (3-1, 3-0) is at Starpoint (2-2, 2-1) in A North -- both teams played Sweet Home tough.

*St. Joe's at St. Francis (7 p.m. Saturday): This is a game fans have been looking forward to since last year's title game win by St. Joe's. In that game, Chad Kelly ran for three touchdowns and threw for two in a rout -- but one in which Lynch did not play due to a tendon injury in his finger. In his only game against St. Joe's, Lynch had a career game with five touchdowns in a 49-21 win against a Marauders team off to a slow start (1-3).

Since then, Kelly verbally committed to Clemson while Lynch verbally committed to Boston College.

Lynch certainly appears capable of another huge performance. In 2 1/2 games, he has run for seven touchdowns and 705 yards on 60 carries (11.75 average), including a 16-carry, 226-yard performance in the first half in a 34-20 loss at Aquinas for the Red Raiders (3-1, 0-0). Lynch sat out the second half of that game, as well as last week's win over Fairview (Pa.), as a precaution after an ankle injury, but he has said he is healthy for this weekend.

Kelly has been hugely impressive as well, throwing for eight touchdowns and running for six for the Marauders (3-1, 1-0). He is 56 of 86 passing for 904 yards and three interceptions while he has run 38 times for 360 yards, for a runningback-like average of 9.47 yards.

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e-mail: kmcshea@buffnews.com