Curiosity prompted me to look back at the previous Power 10s from the just-completed fall season.
My mission: Exactly how many of the teams that won state championships, reached state finals or captured what's considered the top overall Monsignor Martin title in sports without state tournaments actually received a mention in a Power 10 before the playoffs?
The tally: The first Power 10 included nine teams that received a mention either in the main 10 or honorable mention. The count grew to 10 in the penultimate one, which also included the high-honors category. The totals of each increased by three once the area's top cross country teams became factored into everything.
There are two ways to look at those numbers.
– Considering the amount of teams that usually earn at least honorable mention status, of course I hit on that many going on extended postseason runs. It's the blind-squirrel principle (surround it with enough nuts and it's impossible not to feast).
– Or, the stat just reinforces just how hard it is to win a season-ending championship game in any sport, in any classification.
For argument's sake, let's go with the latter.
Six teams got to strike the champion's pose for the masses after their final contests. Eight finished as runners-up in their respective sport. Some made history just by reaching a final four.
That includes the five Section VI football champions who scored the area's first ever five-game sweep over Rochester-area counterparts in the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs.
All of that success leaves me with quite the puzzle to put together since there are (as usual) more quality candidates than number of spots in the top 10.
Without further ado, here's the final Power 10 for the fall:
1. West Seneca West football: What a turnaround! A program that went 12 years without making the playoffs ended the drought and ran the table, capturing its first Section VI and state Class A championships. The return of Matt Myers and Juston Johnson turned a potentially very good Indians team into a 13-0 powerhouse.
2. St. Mary’s girls volleyball: The top girls team in the area capped its season by repeating as state Catholic champion – once again beating Kellenberg Memorial in the final. It’s St. Mary’s third state title in four years and its 16th overall. If not for West Seneca West football’s historic season, Lancers likely would’ve captured the top spot in the final fall Power 10 for the second year in a row.
3. Eden boys volleyball: Cross off the one item that had been missing from the program’s and coach Robert Pierce’s resume. The Raiders captured their first NYSPHSAA championship in thrilling comeback fashion against Bellmore JFK. The Raiders have won 31 sectional titles and captured multiple Intersectional championships prior to the formation of the NYSPHSAA state tournament in 2010.
4. Portville girls volleyball: For the third time in four years, the Panthers roared to a state championship – except this time they did it in Class C. They did so by taking down eight-time defending state champion Eden in the Section VI championship match after losing to the Raiders in the same round last season. They did it with a dominating display of championship-level play before the best in the state in Glens Falls. Simply put, they did it.
5. Allegany-Limestone girls soccer: Gators end season on 11-game winning streak en route to capturing first state championship since 2002. Class C all-state first-team selection Alyssa Spring’s third goal of the final proved the winner. Gators suffered their only loss in 22 games to eventual Section VI Class A-2 champion Pioneer. Just a heads up: Spring and state Player of the Year Molly McClelland are sophomores.
6. Lancaster football: Legends’ historic run to their first state Class AA final ended with a loss to defending champion Troy. It still was a season for the books as Lancaster repeated as Section VI champion in dominating fashion. The Legends then became the only WNY team this season to beat state-power Aquinas, shutting out the Little Irish in the state quarterfinals to earn their first trip to the final four. That triumph also secured the first-ever sweep in Far West Regionals by Section VI over Rochester-area champions since the state tournament started in 1993. Then there’s the comeback win over Cicero-North Syracuse in semifinals.
7. Williamsville East girls volleyball: The Flames capped their third straight appearance in the state final four by advancing beyond the pool-play portion of the tournament and reaching the Class A final for the first time. Four-time defending Section VI champions hung tough in the title match before bowing to defending champion Walter Panas.
8. Lackawanna boys soccer: The Steelers (19-3) lost in heartbreaking fashion in the state semifinals but rode a 14-game winning streak to best postseason finish in their history. Streak included ending I-Prep/Grover’s reign as Class B champions and comeback win over World of Inquiry in regionals.
9. Maple Grove football: Folks should have known better than to doubt the Red Dragons. Sure they lost to a Western New York team for the first time in four years but they gained measure of revenge by taking down previously unbeaten Franklinville/Ellicottville in comeback fashion in Section VI final. They followed that by steamrolling state No. 1 Clyde-Savannah and rallying for a win over IV-Tioga in its opponent's own backyard to reach second straight Class D final. Curt Fischer and his assistants can coach.
10. Canisius football: Canisius won its fifth Monsignor Martin title in six years. But lack of depth and too many mistakes caught up to the Crusaders in state Catholic final loss to Archbishop Stepinac. Note: While Canisius would more than likely defeat Maple Grove if they faced each other, the reason the Red Dragons are ranked ahead of the Crusaders in this Power 10 is simple. Canisius was expected to reach state final, Maple Grove wasn’t – thus more surprising run receives higher placement.
Canisius volleyball: The streak continues as the Crusaders captured their 18th straight Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association regular-season and postseason championship.
Clarence girls soccer: Red Devils overcame graduation of seven – including a few Division I players – from last year’s state semifinalist team to reach their fourth straight state final four. A tough break resulted in season-ending 1-0 double overtime defeat to Massapequa.
East Aurora cross country: Top-ranked large school girls team in Western New York placed second at states in its class with boys team coming in sixth.
Lockport boys volleyball: Top team in area not named Eden had a great season filled with in-season tournament triumphs and a nonleague victory via sweep over Canisius. Lions’ only two losses came against eventual repeat state champion Penfield of Section V.
Maple Grove cross country: Boys followed last year’s state title with runner-up finish this year, while girls placed third.
Newfane cross country: Girls earned silver in their quest to repeat as Class C state champions. Boys team took third for its best finish ever at states.
Panama girls volleyball: Panthers’ quest to repeat as state Class D champions came up just short with loss in final to Bainbridge-Guilford of Section III.
Sweet Home boys volleyball: The Panthers didn’t reach the state tournament but captured their first Section VI title since 1993. Two years ago, the program endured a 0-20 season.
Akron field hockey, Akron girls soccer, Alden girls volleyball, Allegany-Limestone boys soccer, Amherst field hockey, Canisius soccer, Cardinal O’Hara girls soccer, Cheektowaga football, Clarence boys cross country, Clarence boys soccer, Clarence girls golf, Clarence girls volleyball, Cleveland Hill football, East Aurora boys soccer, East Aurora girls volleyball, East Aurora girls swimming, East Aurora/Holland golf, Eden boys cross country, Eden girls volleyball, Gow boys soccer, Grand Island boys soccer, Grand Island girls soccer, Hamburg girls cross country, Lafayette boys soccer, Lancaster girls gymnastics, Medina boys golf, Nardin cross country, Newfane girls soccer, Niagara Wheatfield golf, Nichols girls soccer, North Collins girls soccer, Olmsted girls cross country, Orchard Park girls swimming, Orchard Park golf, Pioneer/Holland boys cross country, Pioneer girls soccer, Riverside boys soccer, Sacred Heart golf, Sacred Heart swimming, St. Francis cross country, St. Francis golf, St. Joe’s boys soccer, St. Joe’s boys soccer, St. Joe’s football, St. Mary’s boys soccer, Starpoint girls swimming, West Seneca West girls cross country, Williamsville North field hockey.