Share this article

print logo

Miguel Rodriguez's Fab Five: Stakes are high as rivals and contenders meet

It's Rivalry Week, which means there are definitely more than just five intriguing games on the schedule.

With that mind, let me just get the "I'm sorry" out of the way right now because there are bound to be some folks who wonder why their favorite rivalry game isn't included in this list or why it doesn't include simply rivalry games.

It's not because this corner doesn't respect or value the school/community spiritual importance of T-NT, the battles of Kenmore, Orleans County (Albion versus Medina) or Chautauqua County (Dunkirk versus Fredonia/Westfield/Brocton). It's just because this piece is called Fab Five for a reason. It's reserved for picking the five more intriguing games on the schedule each week. That's the rule.

Also, there are some matchups this week that do not involve rivals that are simply too important not to include in this list because of their postseason implications.

With that in mind, here are five of this week's more intriguing games on the schedule.

-- Cheektowaga (5-1) at Maryvale (6-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Maryvale Stadium. One would think Hatfields versus the McCoys would be the analogy to sum up this rivalry, except it's not.

The schools separated by 2 miles within the same town have more than a healthy respect for each other.

"The kids know each other," Cheektowaga coach Mike Fatta said. "Bucc (Maryvale coach Jeff Buccieri) does a great job. … He and I get along very well."

"There definitely have been great football games (the past few years) and great sportsmanship," said Buccieri, Maryvale's seventh-year coach. "But it's definitely a rivalry Cheektowaga has dominated."

Maryvale won the 2014 regular-season meeting, its first win in the series since 1999. The Flyers secured a share of the division title with the victory, sharing it with the Warriors and Depew. Cheektowaga restored order in its galaxy and gained a measure of revenge by beating the Flyers in the Section VI Class B semifinals later that season. The Warriors have won the past two meetings – including last year's overtime decision that enabled the Warriors to clinch the division title at Maryvale's expense.

Once again the division title hangs in the balance when these two meet with the Flyers looking to complete a 7-0 regular season. Cheektowaga's lone loss was a nonleaguer to Sweet Home.

Maryvale, ranked third among Buffalo News Small Schools, has been led by dangerous two-way player Rashad Law, who runs a 4.36 in the 40-yard dash and averages 9.8 yards per carry and nearly 20 yards per catch. The junior also ranks second in tackles playing safety/linebacker. Sophomore quarterback Connor Desiderio faces Cheektowaga for the second time in his career and comes in with 10 passing TDs and one rushing.

Cheektowaga seems to just reload the talent each year and taking the place of graduated first team All-Western New York quarterback Eric Bartnik has been junior KeShone Beal, a dual-threat playmaker who is built like a fullback but can sling it, according to Fatta. His top receiver has been Tommy Zolnowski.

The key for this one for both teams will be for each defense to get off the field and give each's respective offense a chance to make plays. A concern for Cheektowaga could be Maryvale senior receiver Ray Blackwell, who has 21 catches for 533 yards, seven touchdowns, and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds.

-- West Seneca East Trojans (4-2) at West Seneca West Indians (6-0), at 7 p.m. at WSW Field. West Seneca West can clinch a top seed in the Section VI Class A playoffs should it defeat the rival Trojans for the first time since 2011. Matt Myers and Juston Johnson have been key additions to West and fuel its balanced offense. The Indians have been stingy on defense, yielding the fewest points (50) in all of Class A with a unit led by Mike Glinski, Josh Wilson and Liam Scheuer. Trojans are already locked in as the fourth seed for the playoffs but look to bounce back from last week's loss to unbeaten division foe South Park, which rallied from a 21-point deficit for the win.

-- Lancaster Legends (6-0) at Depew Wildcats (4-2), 7:15 p.m. at Depew Sports Complex (Spectrum News). One of the biggest rivalries in Western New York involves the Class AA power Legends and Class B-size Wildcats. Lancaster leads the all-time series 50-33-6 and has won the past two meetings. Depew won four straight meetings from 2011 to 2014. Nothing but pride on the line as both teams have already clinched playoff berths in their respective classification tournaments. But emotion can be a great ally.

-- Sweet Home Panthers (4-2) at Williamsville South Billies (4-2), 7 p.m. Friday at South District Field. These teams have been in the same division so long that their meeting always seems to be huge. Like several past ones, there is a lot at stake. The winner earns a playoff spot while the loser heads to the Funke Consolation Bowl Tournament. Both teams are looking to rebound from Week Six losses.

-- Williamsville East Flames (4-2) at Grand Island Vikings (5-1). 7 p.m., Friday at Gene Masters Field. Not a rivalry game but it should be an intense affair nonetheless considering the stakes. Flames can earn a share of the Class A North title with a win. The Vikings can earn a share of the division crown (and a top seed) with a win. Flames win coupled with Will South win drops Grand Island to a No. 4 seed even though it defeated Starpoint, which already clinched a share of the Class A North title.

Story topics: / /

There are no comments - be the first to comment