Amherst Tigers (0-8)
Coach: Jason Beckman, fifth season
Home Field: Dimp Wagner Alumni
Program Founded: 1932
Outlook: The Tigers move to A North from A South, but this year won’t be playing against their rival from just up Main Street, Williamsville South. It looks like Beckman – a former quarterback for Canisius College – has hit the reboot button after a disappointing season in 2015. Beckman has lost his top offensive threat, Howard Williams, to graduation. The fifth-year coach is counting on a number of young players, including two sophomores who will play a huge role in the backfield. Jakye Womack, a 6-footer, gets a chance to be the quarterback. D’Shawn Banefield will be one of the running backs. The top lineman is Calik Kennedy, who will bring 260 pounds of size on his 6-foot-3 frame to both sides of the ball. Rebuilding figures to take time, and there could be some help from last year’s junior varsity that went 4-3-2. However, Joel Nicholas, a 5-7 runner who also doubled as a defensive back, has transferred to Canisius.
Sept. 3 vs. Starpoint, 2 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Grand Island, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. Kenmore East, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 vs. Lake Shore, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 vs. Sweet Home, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 at North Tonawanda, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 at Williamsville East, 2 p.m.
Grand Island Vikings (4-5)
Coach: Dean Santorio, 16th season
Home field: Gene Masters Field
Program Founded: 1962
Outlook: The Vikings need to get off the 4-5 treadmill (two straight seasons), and they have some good talent among the 13 returning starters. A key might be the quarterback. Cam Sionko started five games for Grand Island as a freshman, and now he’s ready to take over the job for keeps. Two players who should figure in all-star consideration are J.B. Wilkes, a 6-foot-2, 235-pound defensive end who also plays offensive tackle, and Jim Thorpe, a strong safety and running back with decent speed. Wilkes was second-team all-league at both his positions last year, while Thorpe spends his springs on the lacrosse field. Seniors dot the rest of the starting lineup. Zach Valvo has been part of the Vikings’ running game for two seasons, and he also can play linebacker. The others are wide receiver/strong safety Connor Buzy, center/defensive end Ryan McDowell and cornerback/wide receiver Alex Jennings.
Sept. 3 at Niagara-Wheatfield, 2 p.m.
Sept. 9 vs. Amherst, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 at Starpoint, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 at North Tonawanda, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 vs. Williamsville East, 7 p.m.
Oct. 8 at Kenmore East, 2 p.m.
Oct. 14 vs. Williamsville South, 7 p.m.
Kenmore East Bulldogs (0-9)
Coach: Pat Veltri, second season
Home Field: Sparky Adams Field
Program Founded: 1959
Outlook: Veltri had a rocky welcome to head coaching last season. The Bulldogs had to forfeit their first game because of a lack of players, and lost every game the rest of the way. Then some plans for a merger with the Charter School for Applied Technologies fell through in the spring. But the skies over Sparky Adams Field brightened as the season approached. Veltri welcomed almost 30 players for the start of practice, so his preseason workouts can feature 11-on-11 drills this year. The second-year coach calls Antonio Scolla something of a cornerstone for the team. Scolla is a senior defensive back. Another senior, Kalil O’Neil, will be in the backfield, and can run and throw. Lineman Owen Nadrowski and defensive back Billy Sauter, both juniors, are back as well. The Bulldogs will play two home games at Tonawanda before their rebuilt stadium is finished in October.
Sept. 3 vs. Sweet Home, 2 p.m.
Sept. 10 vs. Starpoint, 2 p.m.
Sept. 16 at Amherst, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 at Williamsville East, 2 p.m.
Sept. 30 at Williamsville South, 7 p.m.
Oct. 8 vs. Grand Island, 2 p.m.
Oct. 15 vs. Kenmore West, 2 p.m.
North Tonawanda Lumberjacks (5-3)
Coach: Henry Fumerelle, second season
Home Field: George Vetter Stadium
Program: Founded 1893
Outlook: This could be the year for the Lumberjacks to make something of a move in the division standings after a couple of 5-3 seasons. North Tonawanda has 14 starters back, and a lot of senior standouts are ready to make some noise. Zach Woodard is a 6-foot-5 quarterback/strong safety who has good speed to go with a 208-pound frame. He passed for 10 touchdowns, completing more than 50 percent of his passes in the process, and rushed for seven more. Alex Johnson, who also checks in at 6-5, plays tight end and defensive tackle. Then there’s guard/defensive tackle Tyler Beasock. When fullback/linebacker Joe Dotterweich isn’t busy in those two positions, he can do the kicking. Then there’s Robbie Rozicki, a center who checks in at 6-6, 295 pounds. Fumerelle can take a look at three sophomores of note: LB/TE Matthew Monge, OT/DT Jacob Meyer (who already can bench 300 pounds) and OT/DT Nick Casterline. Can the Lumberjacks catch Starpoint? We’ll see.
Sept. 2 vs. Williamsville East, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Williamsville South, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 at Sweet Home, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 vs. Grand Island, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 at Starpoint, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 vs. Amherst, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Tonawanda, 6 p.m.
Starpoint Spartans (7-2)
Coach: Al Cavagnaro, 17th season
Home Field: Tudor Stadium
Program Founded: 1958
Outlook: The Spartans might have the most quotable coach in the area in Cavagnaro, and he had a lot to smile about last season as his team was perfect in league play. Since Starpoint has an impressive 17 starters coming back, you have to think everyone is thinking about a lengthy playoff run. Senior Adam Lasal and sophomore Aaron Chase are contesting for the quarterback spot; Chase could end up at receiver. The team has a couple of top running backs who double as linebackers in Tajay Ahmed and Terry Rutland. Ahmed is in line for some postseason honors. Anthony Robinson is an outstanding linebacker who has been called the best defensive player in his league, while Sam Mazzara is the team’s top wide receiver/defensive back. The Spartans will have lights and turf on their field, hopefully by the third week of the season.
Sept. 3 at Amherst, 2 p.m.
Sept. 10 at Kenmore East, 2 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. Grand Island, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 vs. Lockport, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 vs. North Tonawanda, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Williamsville South, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 vs. Sweet Home, 7 p.m.
Sweet Home Panthers (2-6)
Coach: John Faller, 31st season
Home Field: Bob Barczak Stadium
Program Founded: 1958
Outlook: Times are uncharacteristically tough for the Panthers. They won a Section VI title in 2014, but stumbled in 2015 in going from 9-2 to 2-6. The JV team went through a similar problem, falling from 7-1 to 1-7. And if that wasn’t enough, three big talents have left the team. Dylan McDuffie (the cousin of Bennett standout Isaiah McDuffie) transferred from Sweet Home to St. Francis for his final two years, Brandon Roe moved to Tonawanda, and Paul Woods − who has been offered a scholarship by Boston College - moved from the Panthers to Canisius. Also, the Panthers have only seven starters back in 2016 − four of them on offense. Joe Torrillo will play quarterback while Nate Faller, a fine lacrosse player, shifts to receiver. Lineman Joe Pandolfi joins Faller as a team captain.
Sept. 3 at Kenmore East, 2 p.m.
Sept. 9 vs. West Seneca West, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. North Tonawanda, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 vs. Williamsville South, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 at Amherst, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 vs. Williamsville East, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Starpoint, 7 p.m.
Williamsville East Flames (3-7)
Coach: Chris Glenn, second season
Home Field: Williamsville East Field
Program Founded: 1975
Outlook: The Flames made some steps forward in 2015 after a winless 2014 season. Now the task is to sustain that growth, which won’t be easy with some good-sized losses to graduation. Williamsville East does have some talent at the skill positions, which is always a good start. Quarterback Nick Falkides has good size at 6-foot-2. He knows something about winning, since he was part of the Flames’ baseball team that reached the state finals last spring. Falkides has a big target in 6-3 wide receiver Drew Butler, who was a second-team all-league selection last year. Joe Shifflet is an impressive junior cornerback. Jordan Clement uses his 310-pounds to hold down both the offensive and defensive lines. Other players with big roles will be running back/cornerback TJ Allen, lineman Matt Gibbs and linebacker Ben Geiger. Depth may be a problem as the roster has shrunk a little from last year.
Sept. 2 at North Tonawanda, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Lewiston-Porter, 7 p.m.
Sept. 17 vs. Williamsville South, 2 p.m.
Sept. 24 vs. Kenmore East, 2 p.m.
Sept. 30 at Grand Island, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Sweet Home, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 vs. Amherst, 2 p.m.
Williamsville South Billies (5-4)
Coach Kraig Kurzanski , ninth season
Home field: District Field
Program Founded: 1897
Outlook: The Billies may lead the area in captains this season with five. We’ll see how that translates to wins. Junior Josh Foster is the lone underclassmen to serve as a captain, as he takes over at quarterback. Foster can play linebacker on defense, and is versatile enough to fill in a variety of positions. A big season by Foster certainly would help the Billies immensely. Some of the other standouts are wide receiver/safety Chris Nelson, running back/defensive end Antwanne Jones (70 tackles last year) and defensive end/offensive tackle Travis Porterfield (6-foot-2, 240). Defensive end Dan Thomeer is 6-4, so opposing quarterbacks will have hands in their way when throwing. Jemelle Jones is expected to play a key role with the varsity despite being a sophomore. Jones checks in at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, and will play defensive tackle.
Sept. 2 vs. Lancaster, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 vs. North Tonawanda, 7 p.m.
Sept. 17 at Williamsville East, 2 p.m.
Sept. 23 at Sweet Home, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 vs. Kenmore East, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 vs. Starpoint, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Grand Island, 7 p.m.