Who: Maple Grove Red Dragons (10-0) vs. Alexander Trojans (10-0)
When: 5 p.m. Friday
Where: New Era Field
Television: Time Warner Cable Sportsnet
Rankings: Maple Grove is ranked No. 2 in the News Small Schools Poll and No. 1 in the state poll. Alexander is ranked fifth in the state.
Regional records: Maple Grove as a solo outfit is 2-3 with wins in 1998 over Red Jacket (35-20) and 2008 over Dundee (57-12) and losses in 1996 to Cal-Mum (30-28 in OT), 1997 to Clyde-Savannah (38-20) and 2011 to Letchworth (30-14). During its time as a merged outfit with Chautauqua Lake, the Dragons are 1-1 with a win over LeRoy in 2014 (32-0) and a loss to Bath in 2015 (16-8).
This is Alexander’s first appearance.
Coaches: Maple Grove, Curt Fischer, 26th season (209-44); Alexander, Tim Sawyer, fifth season of second stint, 13th overall.
Maple Grove key players and statistics: Sr. RB Bradley Benson, 5-8/175 (147-1,246, 25 TDs), Sr. QB Dalton Dubois, 5-10/150 (30-55, 568 yards, 13 TDs; 44 rushes, 346, 2 TDs), Sr. WR/DB Mitch Padilla, 6-2/165 (13-139, 4 TDs; 5 INTs, 1 TD), Sr. RB/LB Trevor Micek, 5-10/185 (43-469, 6 TDs; 127 tackles, 2 forced fumbles), Jr. WR/DB Nick Fabrizio, 6-2/205 (12-164, 6 TDs).
Alexander key players and statistics: Sr. QB PJ Brennan, 5-11/155 (67-129, 1,296, 20 TDs, 4 INTs; 10 rushing TDs), Sr. RB/FS Dane Heberlein, 5-6/145 (133-958, 11 TDs), Sr. WR/LB Derrick Busch, 6-3/190 (30-633, 11 TDs; 40 tackles, 6 INTs), Sr. DL Dustin Schmeider, 6-1/200 (58 tackles, 16.5 sacks), So. RB/DB Chris McClinic, 5-6/135 (491 yards, 4 TDs; 2 receiving TDs)
How they got here: Maple Grove advanced with a 33-6 triumph over Franklinville/Ellicottville to end the Titans’ championship reign in the Section VI final at New Era Field. Senior running backs Bradley Benson and Trevor Micek combined for 254 yards rushing as the Red Dragons amassed all but 48 of their 357 total yards on the ground. Micek, a holdover from the program’s state semifinalist team in Class C two years ago, led the defensive effort with nine tackles as Maple Grove – which yields 6.6 ppg, gave up just 9 total yards in the first half.
Alexander, which entered the Section V final averaging 41.8 ppg, advanced with a 19-6 victory over top-seed Clyde-Savannah. The Trojans made six takeaways in limiting C-S to 31 points under its per-game average. Dustin Schmeider, who recorded 8.5 sacks in an earlier playoff win, led the defense against Clyde with seven tackles, including five for losses, and 3.5 sacks. Derrick Busch made three interceptions. Quarterback PJ Brennan, the Section V Class D Offensive Player of the Year, had a hand in all three touchdowns in the final. Dane Heberlein, a state wrestling champion, rushed for 97 yards on 21 carries.
Pre-snap read: Maple Grove is fast and tough and must continue to play that way against a Trojans team that features 15 seniors playing in their first regional.
Maple Grove made a couple plays passing last week but must remain true to its bread and butter and run the ball often with either senior Bradley Benson or classmate Trevor Micek, who is playing in his third regional contest in as many seasons.
The Red Dragons, when they do pass, must prevent Alexander’s Schmeider from being a distruptive force. Busch is a solid two-way player who must be accounted for.
What’s next: Winner advances to the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association semifinals, where it will face the Central Region champion at 5 p.m. Nov. 18 at Cicero-North Syracuse.