Bennett Tigers (8-2)
Coach: Steve McDuffie, fifth season
Home field: All High Stadium
Program founded: unknown
Outlook: Is this the year the Tigers break through and capture the Section VI title? After losing in the finals in Class B and Class C the last two seasons, it’s now or never for many of the seniors who have helped turn Bennett into a contender. Two-time first-team All-WNY linebacker Isaiah McDuffie leads a defense that returns seven starters. The Boston College-commit is coming off a season in which he made 91 tackles with five sacks and rushed for nearly 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns. All-WNY honorable-mention linebackers Nigel Robinson and Marcelus Toliver also return to the fold, while the linebacking corps gains 6-2, 200-pound Lackawanna transfer Jamel Lofton. Monte Parish anchors the offensive line as the Tigers find themselves in what shapes up as the ground-and-pound division of Class A.
Sept. 2 at West Seneca East, 7 p.m.
Sept. 10 at McKinley (R), 1 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. Iroquois (AH), 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 vs. South Park (AH), 1 p.m.
Oct. 1 vs. West Seneca West (AH), 1 p.m.
Oct. 7 vs. Orchard Park, (AH), 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Lake Shore, 6:30 p.m.
Hamburg Bulldogs (4-5)
Coach: Jeff Tripp, first season
Home field: Howe Field
Program founded: 1915
Outlook: Nine-year assistant Tripp takes over as head coach from Pat Cauley, who will now focus on his duties as the school’s athletic director. The Bulldogs head into the new season with a group of seniors determined to get off to a good start. Senior running back Jason Jaskolka, a late season call-up as a sophomore, runs the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds and is determined to have a good year. He had last season cut short by injury. He is one of five returning starters on offense. Classmates Shane Dix and Riley Hummel anchor the line with Dix going 6-1, 290. Senior linebacker John Collins is one of seven returning defensive starters and also starts at running back. Other seniors to keep tabs on include receivers/safeties Chris Janek and Connor Gomolka. Junior Brett Hall takes over at quarterback, while 6-2, 190-pound junior Kyle Shuttleworth starts at safety and will play some receiver.
Sept. 2 vs. West Seneca West, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 at South Park (AH), 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. Riverside, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 at West Seneca East, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 vs. McKinley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Lake Shore, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 vs. Frontier, 7 p.m.
McKinley Macks (3-6)
Coach: Brian Hillery, first season
Home field: Riverside’s Dingboom Field
Program founded: Circa 1937
Outlook: Hillery moves up from junior varsity to take over as coach of the Macks, who have been overshadowed by the recent success of South Park and Bennett. Until last season, McKinley had been the one ex-Harvard Cup member to make the playoffs each year since the Buffalo schools joined the Section VI Federation in 2010. The Macks will be young but determined to return to the postseason. Junior Miles Haynes, a 6-foot junior running back/linebacker, and classmate Taelon Hollaman, a quarterback/defensive back, are team captains. Sophomore running back Kaiyer Fields is built like a senior, according to Hillery. The Macks found a huge athlete in 6-7, 315-pound senior Jeremaine Boyd. It’s his first year playing the sport, but he’ll start on defense. “He can run, he can get down in good three-point stance. He’s smart. He could be a big factor for us,” Hillery said.
Sept. 3 at Niagara Falls, 2 p.m.
Sept. 10 vs. Bennett (R), 1 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. Lake Shore (R), 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 at Iroquois, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 at Hamburg, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 at West Seneca West, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 vs. Riverside (R), 1 p.m.
Iroquois Chiefs (5-4)
Coach: Keith Marshall, sixth season
Home field: Milt Latimer Field
Program founded: 1955
Outlook: The Chiefs are coming off a surprising run to the sectional semifinals that included a quarterfinal win at previously unbeaten Starpoint. They return six starters on offense and seven on defense as they look to take it a step further. Key returnees include seniors Brandon Yax and Nathan Emer. Yax, a third-team All-WNY pick, is coming off a season in which he rushed for more than 1,400 yards with 14 touchdowns. He’ll look to get huge chunks of yardage running behind a line anchored by All-WNY honorable-mention lineman Emer. Emer, who goes 6-4, 250, could be among the finalists for the Trench Trophy and is on the Division I radar. Zach Sley returns for his second varsity season and will play left guard/nose tackle. Juniors to keep an eye on include returning starting linebackers Parker Valvo and Spencer Slachetka.
Sept. 2 vs. Lake Shore, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Riverside, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 at Bennett (AH), 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 vs. McKinley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 at Cheektowaga, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 vs. West Seneca East, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 at South Park (AH), 7 p.m.
Lake Shore Eagles (3-5)
Coach: Drew Takacs, fourth season
Home field: no name
Program founded: 1950
Outlook: The Eagles are a young team with only two returning seniors and several freshmen and sophomores in the starting lineup. Senior Lawrence Jenkins moves from running back to quarterback after doing well in a platoon backfield situation last year with current Eden/NC tailback Owen Krouse. The other senior for Lake Shore is defensive tackle/guard Shearod Rodgers, who is in his third season. Junior Alex Buckley is a big, strong boy who will play both sides of the line and do some kicking along with Jenkins. Freshmen linebackers who impressed the coaching staff during Scrimmage Saturday include 5-11 Nathan Roth and 5-9 Matt Thomas. Roth has nice football smarts to do well at the position, according to Takacs, while Thomas flies to the ball. Shane Failey will likely get lots of playing time at running back and linebacker.
Sept. 2 at Iroquois, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 vs. West Seneca East, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 at McKinley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 at Amherst, 7 p.m.
Oct. 1 at Riverside, 1 p.m.
Oct. 7 vs. Hamburg, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 vs. Bennett, 6:30 p.m.
Riverside Frontiersmen (1-7)
Coach: Al Bruno, first season
Home field: Dingboom Field
Program founded: 1931
Outlook: While the future may be bright for Riverside with lots of freshmen and sophomores, the spotlight likely will focus on senior Gerald Bratton. The fourth-year wide receiver is 26 catches from matching the Frontiers’ record shared by former NFL player and Buffalo Bill Mike Williams and recent graduate Xavier Maye. Throwing passes his way will be sophomore Julius Laureano, who is up from the junior varsity. Another fourth-year starter, 340-pounder Derrick Morris, anchors both sides of the line. Senior linebacker John Harris is a tackling machine. Al Bruno, who coaches junior varsity basketball at Hutch-Tech, succeeds Jose Rodriguez as head coach. Rodriguez stepped down after four seasons.
Sept. 2 vs. Kenmore West, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 vs. Iroquois, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 at Hamburg, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 at West Seneca West, 7 p.m.
Oct. 1 vs. Lake Shore, 1 p.m.
Oct. 8 vs. South Park, 1 p.m.
Oct. 15 at McKinley (R), 1 p.m.
South Park Sparks (12-1)
Coach: Tim Delaney, ninth season
Home field: All High Stadium
Program founded: 1915
Outlook: The only way South Park can top a historic 2015 campaign in which it became the first Buffalo Public School to win sectional and state football championships would be to do it again. That may be easier said than done though, as the Sparks graduated three first-team All-WNY selections, including quarterback and News Player of the Year Tyree Brown. Then there’s the matter of first-team pick and stud offensive lineman Jeremiah Sanders, who goes 6-3, 270 but transferred to Bishop Timon-St. Jude earlier this week. That’s a large vacancy to fill on such short notice. One returning playmaker from last season is senior Nick Schaffer. Schaffer, a linebacker, takes over at quarterback. Khalil White, a running back/linebacker, transferred from St. Mary’s. Speedy senior running back Shakur Harris returns after missing last season. Sparks are 27-5 the last three seasons.
Sept. 2 vs. St. Joe’s (AH), 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 vs. Hamburg (AH), 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 at West Seneca West, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 at Bennett (AH), 1 p.m.
Sept. 30 vs. West Seneca East (AH), 7 p.m.
Oct. 8 at Riverside, 1 p.m.
Oct. 14 vs. Iroquois (R), 7 p.m.
West Seneca East Trojans (8-2)
Coach: Jim Maurino, 13th season
Home field: Trojan Field
Program founded: 1969
Outlook: The Trojans hung around for a while in the sectional final before succumbing to South Park, the only team to beat them last year. West Seneca East is 31-7 with two final appearances the last four seasons. Those hoping to lead the Trojans to Championship Week at New Era Field include senior guard and returning honorable-mention All-WNY pick Joe Ramunno. He’ll be joined on the line by classmate Ryan Kostek. Both are three-year starters. Austin Breidenstein is another year older and wiser and coming off a junior season in which he completed 50 percent of his passes and rushed for nearly 600 yards. Junior Jacob Maurino is a running back who runs a 4.5 40. His twin brother Jared is a wide receiver. Senior Ian Dolec returns at linebacker to lead the defense and will also play some receiver. End Justin Kimble anchors the defensive line.
Sept. 2 vs. Bennett, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Lake Shore, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. Burgard, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 vs. Hamburg, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 at South Park (AH), 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Iroquois, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 vs. West Seneca West, 7 p.m.
West Seneca West Indians (4-5)
Coach: Mike Vastola, second season
Home field: WSW Field
Program founded: 1969
Outlook: West Seneca West finished with a losing record but still made progress as it followed up a winless 2014 by finishing a mere game under .500. West has five starters returning on each side of the ball. Senior Kobe Matesic is 6-3, 305-pound lineman who will play both ways. He and classmate Vinny Draper will serve as the anchors of the defensive and offensive lines. They look to clear holes for sophomore running backs Mike Velasquez and John Speyer. Brendan Tate, a senior, will start at quarterback after serving as the backup last year. Senior Jake Weber plays linebacker/running back, while a junior to keep an eye on is receiver/safety Luke Wilhelm. Quarterback Dawson Broad is among nine all-league selections lost to graduation, but the Indians feel their experience on the line will aid the development of young but skilled position players.
Sept. 2 at Hamburg, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Sweet Home, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. South Park, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 vs. Riverside, 7 p.m.
Oct. 1 at Bennett (AH), 1 p.m.
Oct. 7 vs. McKinley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 at West Seneca East, 7 p.m.