One would think compiling the final Power 10 of the fall season would be a slam dunk.
There are no easy decisions in this corner of the world, although experiencing championship glory and having defining moments are among the main criteria for making this esteemed list.
The top two teams in this ranking definitely experienced their share of both in becoming the latest legends of the fall.
Without further ado:
1. Canisius boys volleyball. Not only did the Crusaders win their 16th straight Monsignor Martin Association regular-season and postseason championship, they also ran the table for the first time in their history. Canisius posted a 34-0 mark against a schedule that featured national and state powers, winning six in-season tournaments. The Crusaders beat three of the four teams that reached the New York State Public High School Class A final four, including two wins over eventual state champion McQuaid.
2. South Park football. How does one go from pretty much unranked most of the season to earning this spot? Do something no one before you ever did, which is exactly what South Park did in becoming the first Buffalo Public Schools football team to not only win a Section VI title but then follow that up by winning the state Class A championship. The history makers became hard to ignore once they snapped Maine-Endwell’s record 62-game win streak in the state semifinals and became one of the top sports stories of 2015 in Western New York.
3. East Aurora cross country. Reigning Prep Talk Awards runners of the year Kenny Vasbinder and Sophia Tasselmyer captured individual state titles for the second year in a row. Blue Devils’ boys and girls won state team titles for second year in a row. Only the second time ever that feat has occurred during the era of coach Walt McLaughlin and first since, well, last season.
4. Eden girls volleyball. In what proved to be another exceptional year for the area’s girls volleyball teams, Eden continued to stand out. Stephen Pierce, last year’s Prep Talk Awards Coach of the Year, led Raiders to a 17th straight state Final Four, and they returned home with seventh straight New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association championship.
5. St. Mary’s girls volleyball. Once again, the Lancers played a brutally tough schedule. They have an argument for perhaps being ranked ahead of Eden since they beat them head to head, but the Raiders won a state title this year and St. Mary’s did not. Advantage, Eden.
6. Portville girls volleyball. Veteran team kept it together when it mattered most in Class D final to win a second straight state championship. With Section I champion Haldane one point away from winning the title, Portville showed a champion’s resolve by winning the next three points of the match behind the service of Lydia Lukomski to claim the crown.
7. East Aurora boys soccer. The Blue Devils finally cleared the Far West Regional hurdle after years of frustration and made a run to their second ever state final, where they lost to Plattsburgh, 3-1. Fine season included a tie against eventual Monsignor Martin champion and state Catholic runner-up Canisius.
8. Grand Island boys soccer. After a 0-1-1 start, the Vikings won 19 in a row to earn the state’s top ranking in Class A and reach the state semifinals. Grand Island’s thrilling run ended with a 3-2 loss to eventual state champion Amityville of Section XI. Still, a 19-win season equals one heck of a year.
9. Wilson girls soccer. A season to remember came up just short of being historic for the Lakewomen. Trying to become the first Section VI team to win a state title in a classification higher than Class C, Wilson dropped a 2-0 decision in the state Class B final to unbeaten Schalmont of Section II (Albany).
10. Cheektowaga football. Warriors have officially become one of the area’s power programs by virtue of making it to the state semifinals two straight seasons. Section VI Class B champions turned defeat into thrilling victory to deny Batavia in high-scoring Far West Regional rematch. With QB Eric Bartnik expected back for his senior season, Cheektowaga seems primed to make another run.
High honor roll
Canisius boys soccer, Clarence girls soccer, Clarence girls volleyball, Williamsville East girls soccer, Williamsville East girls volleyball, Orchard Park football, St. Francis football, Franklinville/Ellicottville football.
Orchard Park boys golf, Orchard Park boys cross country, Sacred Heart golf, Williamsville North field hockey, Clarence girls swimming, Nardin swimming, Maple Grove/Chautauqua Lake football, Maple Grove cross country.