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Miguel Rodriguez's Fab Five: Canisius-Pittsford among highlights of opening weekend

The sounds of football resonated through the air during Scrimmage Saturday last week.

Blowing whistles.

Pads popping from impact between players.

Cheers from athletes, and fans, after positive plays.

The noise should get even louder this weekend.

Week One is finally here. The quest for the postseason begins in earnest for the area's 70 teams, with most of them in action under the Friday night lights. There's still enough Saturday action for fans to indulge throughout the day – including the coaching debut of former University at Buffalo and Williamsville South standout quarterback Joe Licata, as his Bishop Timon-St. Jude Tigers host the St. Mary's Lancers at 1 p.m. at Tifft Farms.

Without further ado, here are this week’s five most intriguing games.

Canisius Crusaders at V-Pittsford Panthers, 7:15 p.m. Friday at Pittsford Sutherland High School. Perhaps the marquee matchup of opening night as it involves two teams that should be staples in the New York State Sportswriters poll throughout the season. Canisius (10-2 last season) enters game as the only defending state champion in either Buffalo or Rochester with its only two losses by a total of 11 points (including a four-pointer to eventual unbeaten Pennsylvania state champion Cathedral Prep). Despite that, the Crusaders somehow finished ranked behind the Panthers in the final 2016 state poll even though Pittsford (8-2) lost in its sectional title game to eventual state Class AA runner-up Victor. Regardless of that, both teams have a significant number of key returnees back. Pittsford's strength is its offensive line as it returns intact. Canisius' line is anchored by second team All-WNYer Brad Currell along with Will McGennis. Game will be televised in Rochester but streamed online in the 7-1-6 at myspectrumsports.com.

McKinley Macks at Orchard Park Quakers, 7 p.m. Friday at Quaker Field. Good nonleague test for both teams as Section VI Class AA runner-up OP gets ready for its rugged division schedule. The faces may change for the Quakers but they still remain among the elite programs in Western New York, a testament to the work of the coaches at all levels in the town. McKinley returns a good chunk of its key players from last year's Class A semifinalist team, including star running back Kaiyer Fields. Macks started 0-2 last year before reeling off six straight wins. A good showing against Orchard Park would definitely catch the attention of the other Class A schools.

Bennett Tigers at Lancaster Legends, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Foyle/Kling Field. The battle of reigning Section VI champions, as last year's Class A champ Bennett plays its first game as a member of big-schools division against the 2016 Class AA champ Legends. While Bennett graduated several key members of its team, Legends have a nice nucleus back from their 10-1 squad including first team All-WNY pick Max Giordano.

Maryvale Flyers at Cleveland Hill Golden Eagles, 2 p.m. Saturday at Carl J. Kuras Field. Maryvale got the better of its Cheektowaga town rival last year in their annual Week One rivalry opener, winning a 14-12 nail-biter that was secured when Dylan Casey stripped the ball from the quarterback on the potential game-tying conversion play. Cleve Hill has still won eight of the past 11 matchups between the teams. Eagles are the defending Class C champion, while Maryvale lost to eventual Class B champion Dunkirk in the playoffs.

McDowell (Pa.) at St. Francis Red Raiders, 7 p.m. Saturday at Polian Family Field. The post Jerry Hickson-quarterback era for the Red Raiders gets underway in a prime-time setting in Athol Springs with the Red Raiders facing a tough opponent from Erie, Pa., the first of six home games for St. Francis this season. Dawson Tyger takes over at quarterback for Frannies, last year's Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association runner-up.

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