Allegany-Limestone Gators (4-4)
Coach: Paul Furlong, seventh season
Home field: Fred Grace Field
Program founded: 1952
Outlook: Allegany-Limestone hopes to continue moving up in Class C. The Gators went 0-8 in 2014 and 4-4 in 2015. Is this the year the team breaks .500 for the first time since 2012? On defense the Gators return six starters, including a pair of potential all-star linebackers. Senior middle linebacker Marcus Grove and sophomore outside linebacker Patrick Walsh can each bench more than 275 pounds. They’ll be the heart and soul of the defensive unit. The offensive unit has more holes to fill, since only four starters are back. Running back Jake Lippert and tight end Mike Nye are the names to watch.
Sept. 2 vs. Olean, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 vs. Southwestern, 7 p.m.
Sept. 17 at Falconer/Cassadaga Valley, 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 23 vs. Gowanda/Pine Valley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 at Salamanca, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 vs. JFK, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Chautauqua Lake, 7 p.m.
Chautauqua Lake Thunderbirds (N/A)
Coach: Adam Erickson, first season
Home field: Not named
Program founded: N/A
Outlook: Chautauqua Lake was caught in some football politics this offseason. The program was previously combined with Maple Grove, and despite the schools’ combined BED meeting Class C standards, Section VI opted to bump them to Class B after winning two straight Class C titles. The two schools opted to separate at the varsity level, meaning Chautauqua Lake stays in Class C. Unfortunately for the Thunderbirds, nearly all the top contributors on last year’s combined varsity squad were from Maple Grove. At quarterback, Chautauqua Lake turns to junior Devin Pope, who didn’t play football in 2015. Junior Josh Walsh will be the team’s main tailback. Erickson, who previously served as the head JV coach for Maple Grove and Chautauqua Lake’s combined squad, has a tough road ahead of him with a roster that will likely hover around 25 players.
Sept. 6 vs. Eden/North Collins, 6:45 p.m.
Sept. 10 at Gowanda/Pine Valley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 at Salamanca, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 vs. Falconer/Cassadaga Valley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 1 at V-Lyons, 6 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Southwestern, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 vs. Allegany-Limestone, 7 p.m.
Falconer/Cassadaga Valley (1-7)
Coach: Jeff Smith, second season
Home field: Bill Race Field
Program founded: 2014
Outlook: Falconer/Cassadaga Valley took a step back in 2015 after going 4-4 in its first season as a combined team. Their only win came against winless Salamanca, and some of their losses were tough to watch. The team lost three games by a combined score of 131-0. Coach Jeff Smith chalked up the struggles to a youthful team learning a new scheme in his first year on the job. He has more confidence going into Year Two, thanks largely to his sophomore quarterback Connor Crabtree. He played the final four games of Falconer/Cassadaga’s season as a freshman, and Smith liked what he saw. He described his young signal caller as an “all-around athlete. He can run and he can throw. … He can do pretty much whatever we ask him.” The team will rely on its three seniors, Brandon Chamberlin, C.J. Kubera and Caleb Hillman, for veteran leadership.
Sept. 2 at Salamanca, 7 p.m.
Sept. 10 vs. Fredonia/WB, 2 p.m.
Sept. 17 vs. Allegany-Limestone, 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 23 at Chautauqua Lake, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 at Gowanda/Pine Valley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 8 at Eden/North Collins, 2 p.m.
Oct. 14 vs. Southwestern, 7 p.m.
Gowanda/ Pine Valley (5-3)
Coach: Sean Gabel, eighth season
Home field: Hillis Field
Program founded: 1915
Outlook: Everyone on Gowanda/Pine Valley needs to be versatile, since the team has only 18 players. A lack of players doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of talent, as Gowanda/Pine Valley returns a Class C South first-team member on each side of the ball. The star of the offense is senior running back Kameron Alexander, one of the best athletes on the team. Linebacker Gilberto Ortiz is a leader. The team will also be getting a boost from a strong crop of underclassmen who went 7-1 at the JV level last season. Running back Caleb Maloney is the biggest name making the jump. Senior Ethan Francis will be under center.
Sept. 2 at Southwestern, 7 p.m.
Sept. 10 vs. Chautauqua Lake, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 at Wilson, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 at Allegany-Limestone, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 vs. Falconer/Cassadaga Valley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 vs. Salamanca, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Pioneer, 7 p.m.
Southwestern Trojans (3-5)
Coach: Jehuu Caulcrick, second season
Home field: Charles A. Lawson Field
Program founded: 1949
Outlook: Replacing Class C South first-team QB Ben Burk won’t be easy. Trying to fill his shoes this year is sophomore Cole Snyder, the face of Southwestern’s young squad. Head coach Jehuu Caulcrick, who spent two years in the NFL, praised Snyder for his pocket presence and leadership. Snyder’s teammates also noticed he has wisdom beyond his years, naming him a team captain as an underclassman. He’ll have quite the talent to work with in Class C South first team wide receiver Nikko Pannes, who Caulcrick described as a big-play threat every time he touches the ball. He’s one of the few veterans on a roster that lost 16 seniors to graduation. The Trojans, who made the Class C final in 2014, are looking for their first playoff game under Caulcrick’s leadership.
Sept. 2 Gowanda/Pine Valley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Allegany-Limestone, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. Cleveland Hill, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 vs. Salamanca, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 at Akron, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 vs. Chautauqua Lake, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Falconer/Cassadaga Valley, 7 p.m.
Salamanca Warriors (0-8)
Coach: Paul Haley, second season
Home field: Vets’ Park
Program founded: 1915
Outlook: Paul Haley was put in a difficult position in his first year on the job. He had some promising athletes, but not many with varsity football experience. In fact, three players in the starting lineup on opening day had never played a football game in their lives. Haley said he expected last year to include some growing pains, but focused on teaching the players the fundamentals. He lucked out with a dedicated group, as players continued to come to practice and put in the work despite the lack of on-field success. Eighteen of Salamanca’s 29 players are returnees, giving the team some experience. Derek McClure is the team’s most dynamic player, starting at both running back and inside linebacker. The QB reins were handed to senior Xander Edstrom, who got playing time at the end of last season. Haley also likes speedy safety Tyler Hedlumb.
Sept. 2 vs. Falconer/Cassadaga Valley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 vs. V-University Prep, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. Chautauqua Lake, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 at Southwestern, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 vs. Allegany-Limestone, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Gowanda/Pine Valley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Olean, 7 p.m.