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Countdown to Friday Night Lights: Class AA

Who’s who: The 11-team class consists of one division. Its members are the Bennett Tigers, Clarence Red Devils, Frontier Falcons, Hutch-Tech Engineers, Jamestown Red Raiders, Lancaster Legends, Lockport Lions, Niagara Falls Wolverines, Niagara Wheatfield Falcons, Orchard Park Quakers and Williamsville North Spartans.

Alignment shift: Kenmore West drops down into Class A North, while Bennett moves up from Class A South.

Last year’s champion: Lancaster defeated Orchard Park, 27-7, to capture its first sectional title since 1999. The Legends suffered their lone defeat of the season in Far West Regionals to Section V champion Victor, 33-27, which lost in the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association final by a point. Lancaster finished the season ranked No. 2 in the News' Large Schools poll.

Last year’s records: Class AA North – Clarence 6-3, 4-1; Niagara Falls 6-2, 4-1; Williamsville North 4-5, 3-2; Kenmore West 5-4, 3-2; Niagara Wheatfield 4-5, 1-4; Lockport 1-8, 0-5.

Class AA South – Lancaster 10-1, 4-0; Orchard Park 6-4, 3-1; Hutch-Tech 6-3, 2-2; Jamestown 1-7, 1-3; Frontier 1-7, 0-4.

Bennett 8-3, 5-1 (Class A South champion).

2016 All-Western New York underclassmen: Lancaster defensive back/receiver Max Giordano earned first-team honors, while teammate Joe Andreessen earned second-team honors at linebacker. Receiver Nic Bruce of Orchard Park was a third-team pick. Those earning honorable mention were quarterback Ryan Mansell of Lancaster, Clarence running back Jacob Reger, Orchard Park kicker Brian Strybel, Niagara Falls defensive lineman Syquan Ralands and Lancaster linebacker Ben Damiani.

2016 all-league first-team underclassmen: Class AA North – RB Jacob Reger-11 (Clarence), K Ed Bianco-11 (Williamsville North), DE Syquan Ralands-11 (Niagara Falls), LB Scott Becht-10 (Williamsville North).

Class AA South – OL Noah-Turzillo-11 (Jamestown), QB Ryan Mansell-11 (Lancaster), WR Max Giordano-11 (Lancaster), DE Rodney Bailey-11 (Hutch-Tech), LB Ben Damiani-11 (Lancaster), LB Joe Andreessen-11 (Lancaster), DB Dylan Bieler-11 (Orchard Park), FS Andrew Pumford-11 (Jamestown), UT Chris Smith-11 (Frontier).

Week One (Sept. 1-2): Opening night features last year's Class A champion Bennett visiting defending Class AA champion Lancaster at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Also on Friday, Hutch-Tech visits Williamsville North and Jamestown opens at Frontier. In a nonleaguer, last year's runner-up Orchard Park hosts Section VI Class A semifinalist McKinley.

At Review the Classes D, C, B and A Countdowns, the entire week-by-week schedule and see photos and videos from our various training-camp stops.

The countdown continues:  Monsignor Martin  High School Athletic Association (Monday).

Season preview coming Wednesday: Our annual preview issue will have capsules and schedules for all 70 teams in Western New York, along with feature stories, photos, a must-see cover and everything else one needs to know about the 2017 season.

Attention coaches & ADs: As soon as they are determined, Section VI coaches need to send a roster -- in spreadsheet form -- to Monsignor Martin coaches should email rosters to

#PrepTalkLive at Every weekend, the place to monitor all of the Friday night and Saturday afternoon action is We will have video reports, photos, live updates from several top games and you will again be a part of the team via Twitter. Tweet game updates with the #PrepTalkLive hashtag and those will appear in our live post.

#PrepTalkSpirit: High school students, tweet your fan photos from the crowd and include the hashtag #PrepTalkSpirit, and we'll retweet some of the best at @bufnewspreptalk.

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