Amherst Tigers (2-7)
Coach: Jason Beckman, fourth season
Home field: Dimp Wagner Alumni
Program founded: 1932
Outlook: Ready or not, Amherst moves up from Class B with a 24-man roster (tiny by Class A standards) that features 10 players new to the teamm. The Tigers’ lone returning starter on offense is senior quarterback Nick Foster, who earned second team all-league honors even though he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week Five last year. He also returns to start at safety. The only other defensive starter back is lineman Kobe Winfield, a 6-1, 225-pounder. Key losses to graduation include three-year starting lineman Bryon Fowler and running back Vince Gregory. Looking to fill the void at tailback will be senior Howard Williams and junior Markel Edwards, who also plays linebacker and led Amherst’s junior varsity team in tackles. The Tigers may be young, but there will be opportunities for players to step up, Beckman said.
Sept. 4 at Hamburg, 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 at South Park, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 at West Seneca West, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 vs. Lake Shore, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 at Williamsville East, 2 p.m.
Oct. 9 at Iroquois, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 vs. McKinley, 7 p.m.
Hamburg Bulldogs (6-3)
Coach: Pat Cauley, third season
Home field: Howe Field
Program founded: 1915
Outlook: The Bulldogs look to overcome the loss of senior Brendan Ryan, a Division I lacrosse recruit, to season-ending shoulder surgery. “He’s our most experienced player,” Cauley said. “It’s quite a blow to us but we’ll do what we can.” Seniors aiming to pick up the void for Hamburg in its quest to make the playoffs for the second year in a row include Ian Chavanne (WR/DB), Brennan English, Mitch Vail and kicker Jason Shuttleworth, who may also get time at defensive back. Shuttleworth, remember, kicked the 37-yard field goal as time expired to force overtime during the Bulldogs’ 40-34 comeback quarterfinal win at Williamsville South. Third-year center Christian Fachko anchors the offensive line. All-WNY lacrosse player Evan Hollfelder is in his first football season, but Cauley expects him to find ways to contribute at receiver and safety.
Sept. 4 vs. Amherst, 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 at West Seneca West, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 vs. West Seneca East, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 at Iroquois, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 vs. South Park, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 at McKinley, 2 p.m.
Oct. 16 at Frontier, 7 p.m.
Iroquois Chiefs (6-3)
Coach: Keith Marshall, fifth season
Home field: Milt Latimer Field
Program founded: 1955
Outlook: The key to Iroquois’ success will be its line play as it has a lot of senior leadership in the trenches. Senior Nate Emer enters his third season starting at left tackle and defensive end. Other familiar faces returning to start on the line include Conner Peterson and Nate McDonald. Conner’s idential twin, Tanner, will start at right guard. They look to clear holes for running backs Brandon Yax and Michael Reidel. Zach Sley, one of several rookies who helped the Chiefs’ JV team post a 7-0 mark in 2014, will start at fullback and linebacker. Junior Jack Edwards starts at quarterback. Other senior returning starters include 309-pound nose tackle Paul Hutchinson, linebacker Henry Gunner and safety Morgan Mariacher. Marshall said senior Jordan Huber will play some corner, receiver and even a little quarterback.
Sept. 4 vs. West Seneca West, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 at McKinley, 1 p.m.
Sept. 18 at Lake Shore, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 25 vs. Hamburg, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 at West Seneca East, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 vs. Amherst, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 vs. Riverside, 7 p.m.
Lake Shore Eagles (2-6)
Coach: Drew Takacs, third season
Home field: No name
Program founded: 1950
Outlook: The Eagles return 20 seniors and nine starters on each side of the ball. The biggie is quarterback Colin Fiutko, who missed most of last season with a knee injury suffered in Week Two. The third-year starter’s injury not only ended Lake Shore’s playoff hopes but also forced him to sit out the basketball and baseball seasons. “He worked out hard this offseason,” Takacs said. “It’s like he hasn’t missed a beat.” His favorite target will likely be identical twin Cory, who also starts at safety. Running backs by committee include Lawrence Jenkins, who also starts at corner; David Kilian and Owen Krouse, one of six juniors from Eden/North Collins who will suit up for the Eagles. “A lot of coaches wait for a season when they have 20 seniors,” Takacs said. “Our goal is the playoffs. That’s the bottom line.”
Sept. 4 vs. Hutch-Tech, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 11 at West Seneca East, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 vs. Iroquois, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 25 at Amherst, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 vs. McKinley, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 9 vs. West Seneca East, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 16 at South Park, 7 p.m.*
*–Game at All High Stadium
McKinley Macks (3-5)
Coach: Edward Wilson, sixth season
Home field: Riverside’s Dingboom Field
Program founded: circa 1937
Outlook: Lost amid the hoopla of Bennett and South Park reaching The Ralph for the first time, McKinley is still the only ex-Harvard Cup member to make the playoffs each year since the Buffalo Public Schools joined the Section VI Federation in 2010. Among the returning starters looking to extend that streak for the Macks is senior quarterback Keyon Johnson, who can make plays with his arm and has blazing 4.2-40-yard dash speed, according to Wilson. Johnson won the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the All-High Championship Meet last spring. His top receiving targets are Malik Herod and Keshawn Fisher, while seniors Jade Beal and Andrew James serve as running backs. Senior Dezon McGee brings size to the defensive line. “We’ll give the best effort we can for the city of Buffalo,” Wilson said.
Sept. 4 at South Park, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 vs. Iroquois, 1 p.m.
Sept. 18 vs. Niagara Falls, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 vs. West Seneca East, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 at Lake Shore, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 10 vs. Hamburg, 1 p.m.
Oct. 16 at Amherst, 7 p.m.
West Seneca East Trojans (7-2)
Coach: Jim Maurino, 12th season
Home field: Trojan Field
Program founded: 1969
Outlook: Trojans have made the postseason six out of the last seven seasons. Returnees trying to help them extend their current playoff streak to five straight years include senior linebacker/receiver John Dolac III, a three-year starter who shared Class A South defensive player of the year honors last season. Senior Ray Ray Johnson is a big-play threat at running back and corner. Classmate Nick Streczywilk, a receiver and linebacker, has great hands and is an excellent blocker. Junior Joe Ramunno enters his second season as starter on the offensive line/defensive line. Other returning linemen include Greg Bruenn and Joe Ciraulo, another three-year starter at guard. Ciraulo may be just 5-9, 190 but is one of the toughest players on the field, Maurino said. Junior quarterback Austin Breidenstein, who played on JV last year, has had a great camp.
Sept. 4 at Frontier, 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 vs. Lake Shore, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 at Hamburg, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 at McKinley, 7 p.m. Oct. 2 vs. Iroquois, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 vs. South Park, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 at W. Seneca West, 7 p.m.
West Seneca West Indians (0-7)
Coach: Mike Vastola, first season
Home field: WSW Field
Program founded: 1969
Outlook: Oct. 25, 2012. That’s the last time West Seneca West won a game, a 23-6 decision over Riverside. The good news: The Indians’ junior varsity team went 5-2 last season, and graduates from that level along with five returning varsity starters enter the season determined to end the Indians’ 15-game losing streak. Senior receiver/linebacker Jack Myers, the top tackler last season, returns as does classmate Dawson Broad, who has caught the eye of Division II baseball scouts. He’ll play corner and quarterback. Vastola plans to take advantage of Broad’s arm and throw more than last season. Tim Skea, another senior, hits hard on defense at linebacker and runs good routes at receiver. Senior tight end/safety Ryan Sherk looks to make up for lost time as he missed last season with an injury.
Sept. 4 at Iroquois, 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 vs. Hamburg, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 vs. Amherst, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 at South Park, 1 p.m.
Oct. 2 at Clarence, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 at Lake Shore, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 vs. West Seneca East, 7 p.m.
South Park Sparks (8-2)
Coach: Tim Delaney, eighth season
Home field: All High Stadium
Program founded: 1915
Outlook: After coming oh-so-close to becoming the first former Harvard Cup member to win a Section VI title, the Sparks look to finish the job with a lineup that features six returning starters on offense and five on defense. The biggies include senior quarterback Tyree Brown, an honorable mention All-WNY pick last season, and receiver/defensive back Daryl Moore, a third-team selection. Austin Neal is also back at running back. Although, he didn’t start for Bennett last season, sophomore transfer Jeremiah Sanders (6-3, 300) makes an already talented offensive line even better. He joins a unit that includes seniors Randy Bish and Jason Cudney, and junior Andre Walker. Sanders helped Bennett reach The Ralph last season in Class B. Canisius transfer David Thomas also bolsters the Sparks’ lineup. Sparks are 15-4 the last two seasons.
Sept. 4 vs. McKinley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 at Amherst, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 at Canisius, 2 p.m.
Sept. 26. vs. West Seneca West, 1 p.m.
Oct. 2 at Hamburg, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 at West Seneca East, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 vs. Lake Shore, 7 p.m.
– Miguel Rodriguez