Brackets indicate first-place votes:
Rk. School (class) Rec. Pts.
1. Canisius  10-2 87
2. Lancaster (AA)  10-1 84
3. St. Francis 4-6 65
4. Bennett (A) 8-3 59
5. Orchard Park (AA) 6-4 52
6. Starpoint (A) 9-1 46
7. Bishop Timon/St. Jude 5-6 36
8. McKinley (A) 6-3 21
9. Hutch-Tech (AA) 6-3 13
*T10. St. Joe’s 4-6 9
*T10. Clarence 6-3 9
* - Indicates tie in voting
Others receiving votes: Niagara Falls (AA) 4, Grand Island (A) 2, North Tonawanda (A) 1.
Voters: Mark Adair, Sean Bruso, Sibby Constantino, Dick Gallagher, Tom Langworthy, John Lewis, Rich Robbins, Dennis Gilbert, Dennis Sarow, Rick Coburn, News’ Miguel Rodriguez.
Rk. School (class) Rec. Pts.
1. Maple Grove (D)  12-1 99
2. Dunkirk (B)  9-3 90
3. Cheektowaga (B) 9-1 77
4. Cleveland Hill (C) 9-2 73
5. Olean (B) 8-1 51
6. Southwestern (C) 8-2 39
7. Maryvale (B) 6-2 37
8. Frank./Ellicot. (D) 7-3 30
9. Medina (B) 6-3 21
10. Lackawanna (B) 5-4 11
Others receiving votes: Alden (B) 9, Gowanda (C) 7, Silver Creek/Forestville (D) 4, East Aurora/Holland (B) 1.
Voters: Adair, Bruso, Constantino, Gallagher, Lewis, Sarow, William Atlas, Angelo Sciandra, Ed Sciera, Jay Sirianni, News’ Rodriguez.
For the first several weeks of the high school football season, picking the top large school and small school teams was easy. Voters in The Buffalo News polls simply wrote in the names of Canisius and Cheektowaga at the top, and moved on.
But then the situation became more complicated, adding a little suspense to the release of the final poll of the season.
The vote for large schools came down to the two teams that had been ranked first at times during the season: Canisius and Lancaster. In a very close decision that came down to the final votes cast, the Crusaders are the No. 1 large school team in Western New York.
In the small school voting, Maple Grove enjoyed a dominant year while playing its regular season. But the Red Dragons waited until the final poll of the season to reach the top.
Maple Grove received nine of 10 first-place votes to take the honor as the No. 1 small school team for 2016.
The chart below shows a rather untraditional order of the large schools if you look at the records. That’s because some of the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association teams played top-flight opponents from outside Western New York. Sometimes they received losses, but the voters recognized that wins and losses aren’t necessarily the best indication of relative strength.
Meanwhile, a loss by Cheektowaga in the Section VI final at New Era Field changed the outlook for the final poll. It became a question of the last team standing. That squad turned out to be Maple Grove. The Red Dragons won the Class D championship at New Era Field, and advanced all the way to the state final at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
There Maple Grove couldn’t quite complete its mission, as it lost on the last play of the game. But the Red Dragons were still voted No. 1.
Last year, South Park’s run to a state title was rewarded with a large-school crown by the voters. Cheektowaga won the small-school vote.
• The News would like to thank the voters for their good work during the 2016 season. Next week, we plan to compile the season’s first basketball polls. We are looking for two pollsters to evaluate large school teams in girls basketball. Those interested can send an email to the address below.
• The Prep Talk Boys and Girls Players of the Week will be back for the winter season. Coaches’ nominations should be sent to email@example.com.