Sweet Home Panthers (0-0) vs. Williamsville North Spartans (0-0), 2 p.m., Williamsville North Field.
Too bad these two teams had to wait a full season before gathering for the rematch of the 2013 Section VI Class A final, the game in which North snapped the Panthers’ 69-game winning streak against Western New York foes en route to a run to the state final. Most of the cast has changed as first team All-Western New Yorkers Brandon Smiley (Sweet Home), George Attea (Williamsville North), Duke Hwang (Williamsville North), Nick Ames (Williamsville North) and a host of other playmakers from both programs have moved on to Division I or other college programs.
North is back down in Class A North with Sweet Home after spending last season in Class AA. So if the hype surrounding these teams’ first meeting since 2013 isn’t enough, factor in the whole jockeying for position in a nine-team division in which only four teams qualify for the postseason.
In other words, this game is huge.
With Smiley, running back Jordan Evert and quarterback Kevin Torrillo among the graduated, this opens the door for young Panthers to carry the torch – hard-running bruising running backs Dylan McDuffie, a sophomore, and junior Brandon Roe. Senior linebacker Jon Philips, a captain, proved last season he is a more than capable running back option as well.
For the Spartans, they lost Duke Hwang to the University at Buffalo but his little brothers return to lead the offense in junior Andrew and Jason Hwang, the running back and quarterback, respectively. Both were significant contributors on last season’s team which lost in the Class AA semifinals to eventual state champion Jamestown.
Other key games Saturday:
• Lockport at St. Joe’s, 1 p.m.: It’s always a big deal when a Class AA public school takes on a large school from the Monsignor Martin Association.
• Jamestown at Niagara Falls, 2 p.m.: The state champion Red Raiders, with senior quarterback and returning All-WNY first team selection Nikkolas Holland leading the way, begin their title defense against a Niagara Falls team that has size and quick playmakers.
• North Tonawanda at Williamsville East, 2 p.m.: New Flames coach Chris Glenn, who took over for Chris McDuffie, faces an NT team that not only made the playoffs but has a connection to Williamsville East, too, in ex-Flames pilot Henry Fumerelle.
• Maryvale at Cleveland Hill, 2 p.m.: Nothing gets the juices going like a rivalry game to open the season. Maryvale won last season’s meeting, riding that momentum to a playoff appearance.
• Springville at Burgard, 3 p.m.: The second game of a doubleheader at All High, which starts at noon with Bennett hosting Akron. Could be a potential playoff preview here with the veteran Griffins bringing a four-game winning streak into the contest against last year’s Class B semifinalist Burgard.
• OSU Pittsburgh at Maple Grove/Chautauqua Lake, 7 p.m.: Maple Grove found a replacement game to take the place of its nonleaguer against Eden, which couldn’t field a varsity team this season due to numbers.
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Review our #PrepTalkLive coverage from Friday night’s season-opening action, including video reports, photo galleries and a live blog of how the night transpired. Our scoreboard page also has additional details from several games.
Our #PrepTalkLive coverage continues with today’s games. No matter when the games are, you can again be part of the team via Twitter: Tweet game updates with the #preptalklive hashtag and those updates will appear in our live blogs.
High school students, tweet your fan photos from the crowd and you could win prizes. Just include the hashtag #PrepTalkSpirit when you tweet your photos. We’ll retweet some of the best at @bufnewspreptalk, and our pick for the best #PrepTalkSpirit photo from a high school student will win a prize every weekend of high school football.
Among the highlights for next Friday include Niagara Falls visiting Hutch-Tech in a special 6:30 p.m. Thursday night clash from All High Stadium. On Friday, Lancaster heads to Ohio for a nonleaguer against Central Catholic. In games closer to home, Fredonia visits Springville at 7 p.m. Friday in a Class B South matchup. Clarence visits Dingboom Field to take on Riverside in a Class AA North showdown, while Burgard faces Maryvale in a Class B West rumble.