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2017 H.S. Football: WNY's players to watch

Medina's Jalin Cooper, who will take his size, speed and athleticism to Toledo of the Mid-American Conference after graduation, is just one of the many must-see talents in Western New York this coming season.

Not all of them are seniors. Here are some of the other prime-time players looking to lead their respective teams to success while giving fans a reason to cheer, according to The News' Miguel Rodriguez:

Paul Woods, Canisius

The 6-foot-1 senior wide receiver has verbally committed to Big Ten-member Rutgers and with good reason.  He' s big and fast, running the 40-yard dash in the 4.4-second range. He averaged 19.5 yards per catch and finished with eight touchdowns, performing his best in big games.

Matt Myers, West Seneca West

The 6-4, 215-pound quarterback has verbally committed to University at Buffalo. During his two seasons at Timon, the dual-threat playmaker finished with more than 3,100 yards passing and nearly 1,600 rushing and 47 touchdowns (24 passing, 23 rushing). He was the 2016 Monsignor Martin Offensive Player of the Year.

Dylan McDuffie, Sweet Home

Connolly Cup finalist returns to Sweet Home after a fine junior season at St. Francis in which the 6-0, 205-pound running back rushed for 1,255 yards and 14 touchdowns. Second team All-WNY selection, the cousin of 2016 News Player of the Year Isaiah McDuffie has received 13 Division I offers.

Max Giordano, Lancaster

Returning first-team All-WNY selection as a defensive back has great hands and is a Division I athlete, having already verbally committed to pitch for Niagara University's baseball team. Lockdown corner also set a school record for receptions in a season (41) last year, scoring 10 TDs.

Jeremiah Sanders, South Park

One of the best tackles in the area. The two-time All-WNY first-team selection returns to South Park following a year at Timon in which he did not yield a sack. He's anchored lines on teams that have rushed for more than 2,000 yards each of the past three seasons.

Retsen Daley, St. Francis

Versatile St. Francis star has multiple Division I-AA offers and likely would be the alpha leader among a talented wide-receiving corps in the area if not for the presence of Woods and Cooper. Daley runs a 4.5-40 and averaged nearly 25 yards per catch on 35 receptions as a junior.

Ben Damiani, Lancaster

The Lancaster linebacker is fast, tough and a relentless ball pursuer. When he hits a ball carrier, the player who gets popped and the fans in the stands know it. Among the many talented linebackers who proved to be difference-makers in 2016, but one of the few who was an underclassmen.

Cole Snyder, Southwestern

The 6-2 junior quarterback is on the Division I radar and with good reason. He throws a nice ball, a skill he flaunted regularly in helping Southwestern reach the Section VI Class C final last year. He also makes sound decisions as he passed often last season but had 18 touchdowns against just one interception.

Jayce Johnson, Canisius

This is the first time in Rich Robbins' coaching tenure he has a returning starting quarterback. Johnson's a 6-5 dual-threat talent, who played his best football during the playoffs in leading the Crusaders to the state Catholic championship last year.

Zane Johnson, Grand Island

Grand Island's senior wide receiver is a playmaker. The third-team All-WNY pick and third-year starter averaged 16.4 yards per catch last year. Nine of his 12 touchdowns were of the receiving variety, but he also scored on a 99-yard interception return and took two punts to the house. He'll get the ball in his hands alot.

Kaiyer Fields, McKinley 

McKinley's star running back is built like a man even though he's just a junior. He's big, fast, tough-to tackle and helped the Macks reach the Section VI Class A semifinals after 14-touchdown, 1,200-rushing yards season. He is being actively recruited by Division I schools.

Among others one might want to  keep an eye on:

RB Christian Snell (Alden), RB/LB Michon Dudley (Cardinal O'Hara), RB Kenyatta Huston (Canisius), RB Aaron Wahler (Cleveland Hill), WR/RB Nic Fabrizio (Maple Grove), LB Miles Haynes (McKinley), DE Syquan Ralands (Niagara Falls), WR Nic Bruce (Orchard Park), QB Casey Kelly (St. Joe's), DB Devonte Fountain (South Park), RB/LB Anthony Robinson (Starpoint).

It took a village to nurture a football star: Jalin Cooper's story

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