Clarence Red Devils (4-5)
Coach: Mark Layer, sixth season
Home field: No name
Program founded: Circa 1919
Outlook: Could this be Clarence’s bounce- back season? Perhaps, as there’s an infusion of talent from an 8-2 junior varsity mixed with key varsity returnees. Senior Niko Mullen is coming off an honorable-mention All-WNY season and will continue to be the Red Devils’ jack-of-all trades (running back, receiver, defensive back, kicker and punter). Two third-year starters anchor the lines in 6-4, 300-pound senior Russ Kobierecki and 6-3, 235-pound classmate Sean Kloss. Senior receiver Brett Naylor is 6-4 and a three-sport athlete (hockey and lacrosse). Newcomers include sophomore quarterback Jack Putney, who also plays baseball and basketball, and junior running back/quarterback/defensive back Brendan Cinerman. Another rookie to watch is junior running back Jake Reger.
Sept. 2 at Frontier, 7 p.m.
Sept. 10 at Niagara-Wheatfield, 2 p.m.
Sept. 17 at Lockport, 2 p.m.
Sept. 24 at Niagara Falls, noon
Sept 30 vs. Wmvs. North, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 vs. Kenmore West, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 14 vs. Hutch-Tech, 7 p.m.
Kenmore West Blue Devils (8-2)
Coach: John Haynes
Home field: Crosby Field
Program founded: 1924
Outlook: Haynes takes over for retired Rich Harris and inherits a team coming off an appearance at The Ralph. Although 20 seniors graduated, there is returning talent in the form of linebacker/tackle Tyler White, a 6-3 senior coming off a second-team All-WNY campaign. He shares captain duties with fellow senior linebacker Cory Ratka. Big-play, honorable-mention All-WNY receiver Jamir Lynch is the leading candidate to succeed DeAngelo Walker Johnson at quarterback. Other seniors determined to lead the Blue Devils back to the title game include 6-2 receiver/corner Kevin Carpenter, all-purpose back Alvin Pascua, slot back/linebacker Jahlel St. John and receiver/corner Cruise Halter. Junior Erik Rainey will start at inside linebacker.
Sept. 2 at Riverside, 7 p.m.
Sept. 10 vs. Wmsv. North, 2 p.m.
Sept. 17 at Niagara Falls, 2 p.m.
Sept. 24 vs. Niagara-Wheatfield, 2 p.m.
Oct. 1 vs. Lockport, 2 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Clarence, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 15 at Kenmore East, 2 p.m.
Lockport Lions (3-5)
Coach: Matt Vermette, first season
Home field: Max D. Lederer Field
Program founded: Circa 1920s
Outlook: Vermette moves from an assistant’s role to head coach as Greg Bronson stepped down to follow his son’s college career. Vermette expects the team to contend even though it suffered a big loss before the start of the season. The Lions lost junior quarterback Javon Ford to a knee injury at a summer camp. Two juniors battling for the starting role are Luke Hausrath and Issac Drake. Six-foot senior receiver/safety Tavon Chambers and 6-3, 260-pound junior tackle Marcus Stahli look to help with their transition. Three transfers Vermette expects to provide a boost include linebacker Jason Burruss from Maryvale, defensive end/fullback Nate Pinkham from Northbridge, Mass., and running back/linebacker Shota Sprunger, who comes to the area from Japan.
Sept. 3 at Canisius, 1 p.m.
Sept. 10 vs. Niagara Falls, 2 p.m.
Sept. 17 vs. Clarence, 2 p.m.
Sept. 23 at Starpoint, 7 p.m.
Oct. 1 at Kenmore West, 2 p.m.
Oct. 8 vs. Niagara-Wheatfield, 2 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Wmsv. North, 7 p.m.
Niagara Falls Wolverines (5-4)
Coach: Don Bass, 10th season
Home field: Niagara Falls Athletic Complex
Program founded: 2000
Outlook: The Wolverines ended Jamestown’s championship reign last season before falling in the sectional semifinals to eventual champion Orchard Park. Coach Bass has only five returnees from that squad – along with the addition of a familiar face who sat out 2015. Senior nose tackle Mario Taylor anchors the defensive line, while classmate Santino Cafarella looks to do the same on the offensive side. Potential big-play makers include senior identical twins and running backs Dee and Tee Hunt. Che’Kore Moore is another speedy running back/returner as Falls looks to overcome the graduation losses of top receivers Da’Quan Hubbard and Jaquan Hudson. Senior running back Haseem Pruitt, who can bench 275, returns after not playing last year.
Sept. 3 vs. McKinley, 2 p.m.
Sept. 10 at Lockport, 2 p.m.
Sept. 17 vs. Kenmore West, 2 p.m.
Sept. 24 vs. Clarence, noon
Oct. 1 at Niagara-Wheatfield, 1 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Wmsv. North, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 vs. Orchard Park, 2 p.m.
Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons (5-4)
Coach: Brent Tylec, fourth season
Home field: Terry Harvey Field
Program founded: 1958
Outlook: The Falcons took flight late, closing the season on a four-game winning streak. Coach Tylec’s team looks to keep that positive momentum going with the return of five starters on offense and six on defense. The key players include three seniors: fourth-year running back Kor’Daryll Welch and third-year starting linemen Josh Shumate and Kevin Lumadre. Other seniors include quarterback Matt Mixon, defensive back Evan Lody and fullback/linebacker Chandler Gilewski. Others looking to be factors include juniors Bryan Lucinski, Josh Brown and Jack Mazzara. Niagara-Wheatfield returns to Class AA North after spending last season in Class A.
Sept. 3 vs. Grand Island, 2 p.m.
Sept. 10 vs. Clarence, 2 p.m.
Sept. 16 at Wmsv. North, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 at Kenmore West, 2 p.m.
Oct. 1 vs. Niagara Falls, 1 p.m.
Oct. 8 at Lockport, 2 p.m.
Oct. 15 vs. Jamestown, 2 p.m.
Williamsville North Spartans (7-2)
Coach: Mike Mammoliti, 16th season
Home field: Williamsville North Field
Program founded: 1968
Outlook: After sharing the Class A North title last year with Starpoint, the Spartans return to Class AA. Since reaching the state final in 2013, North has lost in the sectional semifinals each of the last two seasons. Those determined to help the Spartans get further in the postseason include third-team All-WNY pick Connor Kelly, a 6-2, 227-pound senior linebacker on the Division I and II radar. He is the nephew of Bills great Jim Kelly. Andrew Hwang returns at running back/linebacker after earning honorable mention All-WNY. He and twin brother Jason, the quarterback, are strong runners. Third-team All-WNY defensive back Anthony Maniscalco made eight interceptions last year. Sophomore 6-3, 215-pounder Scott Becht, a returning starter at guard and linebacker, added three inches and 15 pounds in the offseason.
Sept. 2 at Jamestown, 7 p.m.
Sept. 10 at Kenmore West, 2 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. Niagara-Wheatfield, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 at Lancaster, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 at Clarence, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 vs. Niagara Falls, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 vs. Lockport, 7 p.m.