Dunkirk Marauders (5-2)
Coach: Mike Sarratori, third season
Home field: Karl Hoeppner Field
Program founded: 1901
Outlook: A good trend has developed recently in Dunkirk. After going winless in 2013 the Marauders have posted back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in decades and made the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Until 2014, the Marauders hadn’t had a winning season since 1994. Looking to keep the good times rolling is a roster that features four returning starters on each side of the ball with 265-pound senior John Alicea anchoring the line at center and defensive tackle. Starting tackle Andrew Vetter also returns. Senior Alton Ingram moves from fullback to tailback, where he’ll look to fill the void of the graduated Miguel Alicea. Alicea ran for more than 2,500 yards his final two seasons. Senior and returning two-way starter Elwin Gomez will play fullback/linebacker.
Sept. 2 at Cheektowaga, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Olean, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. Eden/North Collins, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 at Pioneer, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 vs. East Aurora/Holland, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 7 vs. Springville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Fredonia/WB, 7:30 p.m.
East Aurora/Holland (4-4)
Coach: Tim Wade, 13th season
Home field: Blue Devils Stadium
Program founded: circa 1922
Outlook: Will experience give the Blue Devils an edge? They sure hope so with a 39-man roster featuring 19 seniors, most of them starters. Matt Boss returns for his second season at quarterback. Coach Wade calls him a great leader with a good feel for running the offense. Although EA graduated first-team All-WNY lineman A.J. Perlino, lots of quality remains. Second-year starting tackle Jordon Ott, a 6-2, 320-pounder, leads the charge along with 6-6, 315-pound third-year starter Greg Willson, Mike Bender and Josh Staniszewski, the younger brother of graduated All-WNY honorable mention E.J. Staniszewski. Junior running back Hunter Czora will get lots of carries but the Blue Devils have three who will share the workload for their ground-and-pound attack.
Sept. 2 vs. Lackawanna, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Pioneer, 7 p.m.
Sept. 17 at Hutch-Tech (AH), 1 p.m.
Sept. 23 vs. Fredonia/WB, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 at Dunkirk, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 7 vs. Olean, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Springville, 7 p.m.
Fredonia/Westfield /Brocton (n/a)
Coach: Mike Marshall
Home field: Brocton, Westfield, Orange Bowl
Program founded: 2016 (Fredonia 1901, Westfield early 1900s, Brocton early 1900s)
Outlook: Fredonia merged with a combined Class D program and got the results it so desired. The team with no nickname had 30 players come out for varsity, so depth should not be an issue. If the programs hadn’t merged, Fredonia would have been below 20, according to coach Marshall. The line appears to be the strength of this team and it begins with returning starting senior center Nick Piper along with classmate Drew Coniglio. Senior Max Bates is a tight end/running back, while senior Chris Catalano and junior Reid Tarnowski have been competing for the right to start at quarterback. Running back Joell Colon, a junior, returns for his second season. Senior RB/LB Mike Poletto is another player Marshall plans to rely on.
Sept. 2 vs. Springville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 10 at Falconer/Cassadaga Valley, 2 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. Olean, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 at East Aurora/Holland, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 vs. St. Mary’s of Lancaster, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Pioneer, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 vs. Dunkirk, 7:30 p.m.
Olean Huskies (2-5)
Coach: Phil Vecchio, first season
Home field: Bradner Stadium
Program founded: 1893
Outlook: Vecchio, the longtime assistant of former 27-year coach Mike Kane, takes the reins and is determined to help the Huskies end a four-season playoff drought. Among the six returning starters on offense is senior quarterback Garret Boldt, who will hand the ball off to classmate Dylan Vincent. Jordan McLaughlin is a two-way lineman, as is senior classmate Nate Bradley. Senior corner Joe Jedrosko is among five returning starters on defense. Junior receiver/safety Luke Chapman started four games last year. Sophomore Icar Simon will play some linebacker and running back. Classmate Alex Pantuso is a two-way lineman. Senior Derek Dandrea will play receiver/defensive back. A good start would help the quest for the playoffs as Olean has lost nine of its last 11 games.
Sept. 2 at Allegany-Limestone, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 vs. Dunkirk, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 at Fredonia/WB, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 vs. Springville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 vs. Pioneer, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 at East Aurora/Holland, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 vs. Salamanca, 7 p.m.
Pioneer Panthers (3-5)
Coach: Jim Duprey, 15th season
Home field: Pioneer Turf Stadium
Program founded: 1971
Outlook: Pioneer has opened the last two seasons 0-4 and 1-3. The Panthers have a lot of returnees determined to get off to a good start and avoid that type of hole. Three senior running backs serve as team captains: Todd Thompson, Jason Gauthier and Rowland Marsh. Brett Nourse, another captain, will play tight end and defensive end. Junior Caleb Riordan is another back who should get plenty of chances to carry the ball in Pioneer’s run-first scheme. Sophomore linebacker Mike Rigerman already has a year of starting experience under his belt. Tyler Smith is 5-10, 225-pound two-way lineman who can bench 275. Emery Marsh and Ben Kaczmarek also are starting two-way lineman while 6-4, 315-pound Derek Biscaro will start at tackle.
Sept. 3 at Burgard (AH), 1 p.m.
Sept. 9 vs. East Aurora/Holland, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 at Springville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 vs. Dunkirk, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 at Olean, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 vs. Fredonia/WB, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 vs. Gowanda/Pine Valley, 7 p.m.
Springville Griffins (7-1)
Coach: Eric Jantzi, 13th season/second at Springville
Home field: Pop Warner Field
Program founded: 1898
Outlook: The defending division champion looks to continue frustrating teams with its triple-option offense in its quest to return to the venue formerly known as The Ralph. The Griffins have a good workhorse in senior running back and potential Connolly Cup candidate Ian Baker, who is coming off a season in which he ran for 1,166 yards (7.2 yards per carry). Connor O’Brien shifts over from corner to quarterback, while lineman John Domes, Austin Coon and Josh Steff will look to continue providing running lanes to move the chains. The Griffins welcome three transfers to the team. Seniors Lexus Pollard (TE/DL) and Marcus Pollard (WR/DB) come over from JFK, while junior fullback/linebacker Colston Saulter moved into the district after attending Section V Cuba-Rushford.
Sept. 2 at Fredonia/WB, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 vs. Frontier, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. Pioneer, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 at Olean, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 vs. Jamestown, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Dunkirk, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 vs. East Aurora/Holland, 7 p.m.