Akron Tigers (3-6)
Coach: Andrew Clouse, second season
Home field: Unnamed
Program founded: Unknown
Outlook: A 3-6 record may not look pretty, but it’s a huge step forward from the Tigers’ 0-8 mark in 2014. Akron returns plenty of talent, including 245-pound tight end/defensive end Austin Ladd. He was named to the Class C North first team as an offensive lineman last season. Junior running back Jake Sarrow was the team’s other all-league selection, one of two running backs on the first team who did not graduate. Cleveland Hill is the only other team to return Class C North first-team members from last season. Akron graduated three members of the Class C second team and one on the third team. A 3-6 record may not look pretty, but it’s a huge step forward and we’ll see if the Tigers can take the next step.
Sept. 2 at Wilson, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 at JFK, 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. V-Oakfield-Alabama/Elba, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 vs. Cleveland Hill, 2 p.m.
Sept. 30 vs. Southwestern, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Albion, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 vs. Eden/North Collins, 7 p.m.
Cleveland Hill Golden Eagles (7-2)
Coach: Glen Graham, 13th season
Home field: Carl J. Kuras Field
Program founded: 1953
Outlook: The Eagles moved back in the right direction last season after a five-win decline in 2014, frequently making it into the top 10 rankings of small schools. Continuing that trend may be difficult given how much they have to replace on offense. Cleveland Hill graduated starting quarterback Kahlil Springs, leading rusher and Class C North co-Offensive Player of the Year Grayson Taylor, backup running back Daytwon Burney and the team’s top two receivers, DeJour Bozeman and Rodney White. The name that could emerge on that side of the ball is Aaron Wahler, a 6-foot running back who ran for 308 yards and two touchdowns his freshman season. The defense is a force to be reckoned with, led by All-Western New York third- team linebacker Matt Eldridge and linebacker/strong safety Ammari Wooten.
Sept. 2 at Maryvale, 7 p.m.
Sept. 10 vs. Wilson, 2 p.m.
Sept. 16 at Southwestern, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 vs. Akron, 2 p.m.
Oct. 1 vs. Eden/North Collins, 2 p.m.
Oct. 8 vs. Medina, 2 p.m.
Oct. 15 at JFK, 1:30 p.m.
Eden/North Collins Raiders (N/A)
Coach: Mike Alessi, first season
Home field: William Bos Field
Program founded: circa 1930
Outlook: The Raiders head into the year with optimism amid an air of uncertainty. The unknown comes from the fact the program failed to field a varsity team last season due to lack of players. The reason the coaching staff feels hopeful: Eden/NC’s junior varsity team is coming off a 6-1 campaign. While the jump to varsity is more like a giant leap, the Raiders have some experience in the form of third-year starting running back/defensive back Owen Krouse. He was among the Raiders who played for Lake Shore last season. Quarterback/DB Andy Bialy also enters his third season. Junior Jarrett Eck ran for 300 yards in his last two games on varsity to cap 2014. Mike Alessi takes over as coach from veteran Chuck Tilley.
Sept. 2 vs. JFK, 5 p.m.
Sept. 6 at Chautauqua Lake, 6:45 p.m.
Sept. 16 at Dunkirk, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 vs. Wilson, 2 p.m.
Oct. 1 at Cleveland Hill, 2 p.m.
Oct. 8 vs. Falconer/Cassadaga Valley, 2 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Akron, 7 p.m.
John F. Kennedy Bears (4-5)
Coach: Jeff Sabatino, 11th season
Home field: Unnamed
Program founded: 1931
Outlook: The Bears return five starters on each side of the ball, but lost starting quarterback Tyler Bethin and Kenai Jordan, who led the team in rushing and receiving. The new signal-caller is sophomore James Bailey, who started for the JV last year. He’ll do most of his damage by targeting the top two wide receivers, 6-foot-4 junior Jordan Snyder and 6-foot-1 senior Brandon Kohl, who is converting from quarterback. Dalton Fischer, a 5-foot-11 senior and four-year varsity player, will take over the starting running back duties. Although no single player will be able to produce the way Jordan did last season, head coach Sabatino said the Bears have the talent to replace him by committee.
Sept. 2 at Eden/North Collins, 5 p.m.
Sept. 10 vs. Akron, 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 17 vs. Tonawanda, 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 23 at Lackawanna, 7 p.m.
Oct. 1 vs. Wilson, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Allegany-Limestone, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 vs. Cleveland Hill, 1:30 p.m.
Wilson Lakemen (2-7)
Coach: William Atlas, 12th season
Home field: Hutchinson Field
Program founded: 1946
Outlook: Wilson has been hit with some bad luck the last few years. Quarterback and team captain Justin Daul, a first-team all-league member in 2014, had his season cut short last year when he tore his ACL. It’s an injury that head coach Atlas knows all too well, as last year’s leading rusher, Wade Rick, suffered the same injury in 2013, his freshman season. Atlas now has both players back at full strength as the Lakemen aim for a playoff berth in a division he called “wide open” past Cleveland Hill. Three of the teams best players are on the defensive line in Tristan Guthrie, Matt Lange and Trevor Zahno, making the Lakemen a tough team to match up against in the trenches. The defensive group will be coached by Wilson’s new defensive coordinator, Matt Faery, who played at Holy Cross.
Sept. 2 vs. Akron, 7 p.m.
Sept. 10 at Cleveland Hill, 2 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. Gowanda/Pine Valley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 at Eden/North Collins, 2 p.m.
Oct. 1 at JFK, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 7 vs. V-Alexander, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 at Newfane, 2 p.m.