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Class A-2: Senior QB leads Grand Island in tough division

Grand Island | Kenmore East | McKinley | North Tonawanda | Sweet Home | Williamsville East

Grand Island Vikings (6-2)

Coach: Dean Santorio, 18th season

Home field: Gene Masters Field

Program founded: 1962

Outlook: The Vikings earned a share of the Class A North title last year and return six starters on each side of the ball. The key might be senior quarterback Cam Sionko, who enters his fourth season. He passed for 1,400 yards and 14 TDs last year. He’ll throw passes to classmate Justin Gorrell, who moves from backup QB to wideout. “We feel him stepping in, we’re not going to lose much,” Santorio said. DE/TE Jeremiah Wilkes is coming off a first-team all-league season.

Schedule

Fri., Aug. 31 vs. Starpoint, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 7 at Grand Island, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 14 vs. Sweet Home, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 21 at North Tonawanda, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 28 at Williamsville East, 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 5 vs. Kenmore East, 7 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 13 at Niagara-Wheatfield, 2 p.m.

QB Cam Sionka leads the charge for Grand Island (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

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Kenmore East Bulldogs (1-8)

Coach: Pat Veltri, fourth season

Home field: Sparky Adams Field

Program founded: 1959

Outlook: The record doesn’t show it, but the Bulldogs played some good football last year. They failed to earn rewards for their efforts due to lack of depth. “We’re just dead in the fourth quarter because of numbers,” Veltri said. Numbers remain an issue, as the Bulldogs have just 22 on the roster. Five are returnees, including quarterback Nate Murdie. Danzo Young will be part of the backfield, along with Desmond Lowe and Dominic Ferguson – both running backs and linebackers. Nick Coburn and Kyle Marscha part of the secondary.

Schedule

Fri., Aug. 31 vs. Amherst, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 7 at Williamsville East, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 14 at North Tonawanda, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 21 vs. McKinley, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 28 vs. Sweet Home, 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 5 at Grand Island, 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 12 vs. Kenmore West, 7 p.m.

Kenmore East coach Pat Veltri (Harry Scull Jr./ Buffalo News)

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McKinley Macks (4-5)

Coach: Micah Harris, first season

Home field: Riverside’s Dingboom Field

Program founded: Circa 1937

Outlook: The Macks played in the toughest division in the section last year and just missed the playoffs. They have six returnees, including running back Kaiyer Fields. He’s a strong and fast runner and can make something out of nothing. McKinley figures to receive a boost from the return of receiver Taivonn Martin, who transferred to Sweet Home for the start of his junior year but came back to McKinley during the winter. Ahmem Lester is another top receiver for the Macks. Cajon Caurthon moves from receiver to quarterback. Top defenders include Zyon Kincannon and Devon Cottom.

Schedule

Fri., Aug. 31 vs. Orchard Park, at Riverside, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 7 at Grand Island, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 14 vs. Williamsville East, at Riverside, 7:30
Fri., Sept. 21 at Kenmore East, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 28 vs. North Tonawanda, at Riverside, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 5 at Sweet Home, 7 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 13 vs. Jamestown, at All High, 1 p.m.
Medina/Lyndonville/Barker

•••

North Tonawanda Lumberjacks (3-5)

Coach: Eric Jantzi, 12th season

Home field: George Vetter Stadium

Program founded: 1893

Outlook: He’s back. Jantzi, the man who guided NT to a state championship in Class AA in 2009, returns as coach for the program for the first time since 2010. That means the triple-option offense is also back. Key returnees include seniors Jake Meyers (OL) and Collin Beach (DB). Senior Matt Monge leads the defense at linebacker. Sophomore Wally Wisniewski starts at quarterback. Sign of the times: NT has a roster of 28. Back in the heyday under Janzti, it carried rosters at least double that total. “We have to build the numbers back up,” he said.

Schedule
Sat., Sept. 1 at Niagara-Wheatfield, 2 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 7 at Sweet Home, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 14 vs. Kenmore East, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 21 vs. Grand Island, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 28 at McKinley, at Riverside, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 5 vs. Williamsville East, 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 12 at Tonawanda, 6 p.m.

State championship winning coach Eric Jantzi is back at North Tonawanda (Harry Scull Jr./ Buffalo News)

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Sweet Home Panthers (5-4)

Coach: Jeremy Zimmer, first season

Home field: Bob Barczak Stadium

Program founded: 1958

Outlook: After a two-year absence from the playoffs, the Panthers returned to the tournament that matters most to them. They will try to keep that trend going with a roster that features eight returnees on offense and seven on defense. The biggie appears to be DE/FB Rob Giancarlo. The senior with a 4.0 GPA is being recruited by Princeton, Harvard and Cornell. Senior Sam Roby starts at running back. Starting linemen include Keith Murphy, Jimmy Griffo and Adam Laboy. Jamel Lucas takes over at quarterback for Maurice Robertson, who transferred to West Seneca West.

Schedule

Fri., Aug. 31 at West Seneca West, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 7 vs. North Tonawanda, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 14 at Grand Island, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 21 vs. Williamsville East, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 28 at Kenmore East, 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 5 vs. McKinley, 7 p.m.
Thur., Oct. 11 vs. South Park, 6:30 p.m.

Sweet Home football players Keith Murphy (73) coach Jeremy Zimmer,Robert Giancarlo (44), Adam Laboy (72), at JFK High School. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

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Williamsville East Flames (4-4)

Coach: Mike Torrillo, second season

Home field: Williamsville East field

Program founded: 1975

Outlook: The Flames made the playoffs in Torrillo’s first season and dropped a close quarterfinal game to South Park. Returning starters include senior running back Clayton Osborne and senior quarterback Colson Skorka. He’ll target underclassmen receivers Cole Shifflet and Nick Arno. Other returning starters include linebackers Ben Morakis and John Orfanidis, and linemen Ajay Chima, Parker Evans and John Moran. “We’d like to build on last year,” Torrillo said. “We crossed that bridge, made the playoffs. … Our goal is to get a step further.”

Schedule

Fri., Aug. 31 vs. Williamsville North, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 7 vs. Kenmore East, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept 14 at McKinley, at Riverside, 7:30
Fri., Sept. 21 at Sweet Home, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 28 vs. Grand Island, 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 5 at North Tonawanda, 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 12 vs. Williamsville South, 7 p.m.

Williamsville East football players Ajay Chima (54), coach Mike Terrillo, Colson Skorka (18), Parker Evans (59), Clayton Osborne (5). (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

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