Akron Tigers (0-8)
Coach: Andrew Clouse, first season
Home field: No name
Program founded: unknown
Outlook: Senior quarterback Brendan Weierheiser will lead the offense with another full year of varsity experience. He’ll have two of his favorite weapons back in Ethan PeQueen (WR/DB) and Preston Kelkenberg (WR/LB). Two others to watch for are Owen Hill (first-team all-league DB) and Austin Ladd (OL/LB).
Sept. 5 at Bennett (AH), 12 p.m.
Sept. 12 at JFK, 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 18 vs. Cleveland Hill, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 at Silver Creek/Forestville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 vs. Wilson, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 9 vs. Lackawanna, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 at Gowanda/Pine Valley, 7 p.m.
Bennett Tigers (9-1)
Coach: Steve McDuffie, fourth year
Home field: All High Stadium
Program founded: 1925
Outlook: Class C must be on high alert as the near-Class B champion, Bennett, is dropping a class due to enrollment and returning nearly its entire starting team. Bennett was seconds away from securing the Class B crown before Cheektowaga’s 40-yard heave shocked the No. 1-ranked Tigers in the title game. And with nine offensive and nine defensive players returning, Bennett looks like a team to fear. Junior running back/linebacker Isaiah McDuffie, who verbally committed to Syracuse in July, leads the backfield with senior quarterback Anthony Mendrysa. McDuffie was a first-team All-Western New York selection at linebacker and named Class B North offensive player of the year. Other returnees include seniors Tysheen Mingo (C/DE), Brandon Brown (WR/DB), Darnell Sanders (OL) and Eugene Steele (OL) and juniors Derrick Bishop (WR/DB) and Marcus Toliver (RB/LB).
Sept. 5 vs. Akron (AH), 12 p.m.
Sept. 11 at Slvr Ck/Forstvlle, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 at Orchard Park, 1 p.m.
Sept. 25 vs. JFK, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 at Cleveland Hill, 2 p.m.
Oct. 9 vs. Wilson, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 at Lack. (@Vets), 7 p.m.
JFK Bears (4-5)
Co-Coaches: Mark Ostempowski, Jeff Sabatino, 10th season
Home field: no name
Program founded (1931)
Outlook: The Bears return senior RBs Matt Lanzalaco and Kenai Jordan. Creating a rushing path for them will be junior fullback and defensive end Lexus Pollard, who was first-team all-league last year. Senior quarterback Tyler Bethin will lead the offense and senior center Tyler Gribble will be his main protector. JFK returns six offensive and six defensive players.
Sept. 5 vs. Wilson, 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 12 vs. Akron, 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 18 at Slvr Ck/Frstvlle, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 at Bennett, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3, vs. Lackawanna, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 9 at Cass. Valley/Flcnr, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 at Cleveland Hill, 2 p.m.
Lackawanna Steelers (2-7)
Coach: Adam Tardif, fifth season
Home field: Veterans Stadium
Program founded: 1925
Outlook: Lackawanna returns only four offensive and four defensive players from last season. Tardif described his team as a “young group of self-motivated football players. Fun to coach. A competitive group that is deep in the skill positions.” The Steelers are led by a pair of first-team all-leaguers in senior RB Jamal Cooley (also plays LB) and junior LB Marquez Lofton. Other returners to keep an eye on include seniors Malik Taylor (OL), Ervin Omerspahic (OL), Dante Wright (LB) , juniors Shakur Snow (WR), Rich Sawicki (OL) and sophomores Khalil Horton (RB), London Smith (WR) and Noble Smith (QB).
Sept. 4 vs. SlvrCrk/Frstvlle, 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 at Salamanca, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 at Wilson, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 vs. Cleveland Hill, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 at JFK, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 9 at Akron, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 vs. Bennett, 7 p.m.
Silver Creek Black Knights (7-2)
Coach: Sean Helmer, 10th season
Home field: No name
Program founded: circa 1928.
Outlook: Silver Creek returns seven offensive and defensive players, including junior QB Noah Radack. Radack is one of six returners who started as sophomores last season. Radack will have 6-2 senior WR Jake Lewis back in the lineup after missing last season with a stress fracture. Helmer said Lewis “could be a dominant force in our league.” The team also returns first-team all-league OL Nate Jones. Other players to watch include seniors Lucas Hallick (RB/S) Trevon Thompson (WR), juniors Billy Seiders (RB), Chris Williams (WR/CB) and Austin Pierce (OL/DE).
Sept. 4 at Lackawanna, 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 vs. Bennett, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 vs. JFK, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 vs. Akron, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 at Southwestern, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 vs. Cleveland Hill, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 at Wilson, 7 p.m.
Wilson Lakemen (2-7)
Coach: Bill Atlas, ninth season
Home field: Hutchinson Field
Program founded: 1946
Outlook: Wilson returns seven offensive and eight defensive players and is led by all-around talented senior Dylan Thompson-Cox (TE/LB/P). Junior Justin Daul, a first-team all-league QB last season, will lead the offense and senior Jacob Mitchell and sophomore Tristan Guthrie are playmakers at WR and DB.
Sept. 5 at JFK, 1:30
Sept. 11 vs. Cleveland Hill, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 vs. Lackawanna, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 vs. Newfane, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 at Akron, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 9 at Bennett, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 vs. SlvrCrk/Frstvlle, 7 p.m.
Cleveland Hill Eagles (6-3)
Coach: Glen Graham, 12th season
Home field: Carl J. Kuras Field
Program founded: 1953
Outlook: Cleveland Hill returns its leading rusher in Grayson Taylor, the Class C North 2014 offensive player of the year who had 17 touchdowns and nearly 1,300 rushing yards last season as a junior. He’s also a linebacker and team’s second-leading tackler. The 5-9, 195-pound senior can squat 450 pounds and bench 300 with 4.54 speed. Junior guard Matt Eldridge, who anchors the offensive line and plays linebacker, can squat nearly 600 pounds. Eldridge was first-team all-league at linebacker and Graham called him “one of the best defenders in the league” last season. Senior lineman Andy Ransbury also returns to add size, strength and “quiet leadership.” There will be competitions at wide receiver and defensive back but Graham said DeJour Bozeman has looked very good in offseason drills and is expected to be a key contributor.
Sept. 5 vs. Maryvale, 2 p.m.
Sept. 11 at Wilson, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 at Akron, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 at Lackawanna, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 vs. Bennett, 2 p.m.
Oct. 9, at SlvrCrk/Frstvlle, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17, vs. JFK, 2 p.m.
– Owen O’Brien