It may be rivalry week, but there is more on the line during the final weekend of the season than just settling old scores.
It’s about the postseason and there are several teams making a final push toward securing a spot in the Section VI Tournament, which begins next weekend.
That includes South Park and Iroquois, who just so happen to be slated to face each other at All High Stadium on Friday night in a high-stakes contest that likely will be filled with as much intensity and drama as several of the traditional rivalry games on the docket this weekend.
While South Park and Iroquois are not traditional rivals, Maryvale and Cheektowaga are. Both are unbeaten heading into Friday night's contest that will decide which of the two wins the division crown.
The Great American Rivalry Spotlight shines on Lancaster as the Legends host old friend Depew on Friday, while T-NT (North Tonawanda at Tonawanda) and the battle of West Seneca between East and West at West Seneca East also take center stage.
Then there's the mother of all rivalry games in the Monsignor Martin Association highlighting Saturday's schedule with state No. 1 and unbeaten Canisius heading to the Robert T. Scott Complex to face arch nemesis St. Joe’s.
All games are big but some more so than others. With that in mind, here are this week’s five most intriguing games.
– Iroquois vs. South Park, 7 p.m. Friday at All High Stadium. South Park secures a playoff spot with the win. Period. It can secure the No. 1 seed for the playoffs with a win by 20 points over the Chiefs. If Sparks win by fewer than 20, they still have a shot at No. 1 seed but it potentially opens door for another one-loss division team with a better point-differential to secure home-field advantage for the postseason. If the Sparks lose, they’ll need help to slip into the playoffs. Iroquois is coming off a win over West Seneca East last week that not only kept its playoff hopes alive but also crowded this division’s playoff picture. With a win, two-loss Iroquois would hold head-to-head edge over both South Park and West Seneca East. Sparks have also lost to West Seneca East in the division. Chiefs’ losses came against Bennett and McKinley. Bennett and McKinley still have chances at securing top seed. Barring McKinley and Bennett upsets, Iroquois makes playoffs with win.
Sparks and Chiefs both rely heavily on the running game. Shakur Harris leads South Park with 494 yards rushing, six touchdowns and also has returned a punt for a score. Brandon Yax is the workhorse back for the Chiefs and is coming off a 177-yard rushing effort with two touchdowns against West Seneca East.
– Maryvale at Cheektowaga, 7 p.m. Friday at Cheektowaga. Both teams enter clash unbeaten. Winner will be champion of Class B West Division, while the loser still will be in the playoffs but tiebreakers will determine whether that team earns a home quarterfinal game. Both teams are fast, with Cheektowaga possessing one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the area in Eric Bartnik. He has two solid options to hand off to in the backfield in Seven Turpin and Michael Gray or can go over the top to returning first team All-WNY receiver Stephan Parker. Middle linebacker Ryan Carpenter is one of many juniors who have been standouts on defense for the Warriors. They will look to corral a speedy Maryvale team that loves to make life difficult for teams with its wing-T offense. Quarterback Connor Desiderio has enjoyed a fine freshman season and helps keep teams honest with his throwing ability. Junior running back Dylan Casey is a threat to take it to the house, too. Last time Cheektowaga lost to a Western New York foe was back in Week Seven of 2014 to Maryvale.
– Albion at Medina, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Vets Park. Medina hasn’t won a division title outright since 1988. A win over its longtime rival would change that. Mustangs have taken three of last four against Albion, but Purple Eagles lead all-time series 64-48-5. Medina suffered its first loss last week, 8-6, at Cleveland Hill.
– Canisius at St. Joe’s, 1 p.m., Saturday at Robert T. Scott Complex. Canisius has dominated the series since losing in the 2011 Monsignor Martin semifinals to the Marauders. Unbeaten Crusaders have won last six meetings but St. Joe’s still leads the all-time series 47-36-3. Canisius coming off win at Cardinal Mooney of Ohio last Saturday in which it forced five turnovers. Crusaders yielding just 11 points per game.
– Cleveland Hill at John F. Kennedy, 2 p.m. Saturday at JFK. They are rivals and the Class C North title is technically on the line. Cleve Hill brings five-game winning streak into clash and can clinch division title outright with win. Golden Eagles also take No. 1 seed for playoffs should they lose by 14 or fewer points to the Bears. JFK needs to win by 15 or more points in order to have a shot at the top seed. A JFK win by 14 or fewer means three teams finish tied for first at 3-1, but the Bears would be the No. 3 seed for the playoffs based on point differential.