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Class D: Three-time champ Maple Grove faces tough challengers

Clymer/Sherman/Panama | Maple Grove | Salamanca | Cattaraugus/Little Valley

Clymer/Sherman/Panama Wolfpack (6-3)

Coach: Ty Harper, fifth season

Home field: Varies

Program founded: Merged in 2015

Outlook: After losing in the first round two years ago and reaching the semifinals last year, the Wolfpack hope to go a bit further this season. The program returns 13 starters from its state-ranked No. 17 outfit, which had its season ended by eventual state runner-up Maple Grove. Quarterback Gerrit Hinsdale returns after tossing 10 TDs and averaging 13.7 yards per completion. He shares captain duties with senior running back Derek Ecklund, who is coming off a 10-touchdown season. Backfield-mate Mike Beatman had seven TDs. Co-captain Jordan Smouse returns to anchor a stout offensive line.

Schedule 
Sat., Sept. 1 vs. Portville, at Panama, 1:30 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 7 at Maple Grove, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 21 at Salamanca
Fri., Sept. 28 at Depew, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 6 vs. Maple Grove, at Clymer, 1:30 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 13 vs. Salamanca, at Panama, 1:30 p.m.

New coach Justin Hanft has high expectations at Maple Grove, as usual (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

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Maple Grove Red Dragons (11-2)

Coach: Justin Hanft, first season

Home field: Maple Grove High School

Program founded: Circa 1930

Outlook: Hanft, a former program assistant (2011-12), knows he has a tough act to follow in Chautauqua County Sports Hall of Fame coach Curt Fischer. Counting a merged season with Chautauqua Lake, Maple Grove is looking to win its fourth consecutive sectional title. Familiar face Easton Tanner returns. After quarterbacking the Dragons to back-to-back state finals, the senior shifts to running back so that the team can best utilize his athleticism. Classmate Carson Crist moves from receiver to QB. The line is anchored by DJ Brown and Alex Duncanson.

Schedule

Fri., Aug. 31 vs. Springville, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 7 vs. Clymer/Sherman/Panama, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 14 at Salamanca, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 21 vs. Cattaraugus/Little Valley, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 28 at Gowanda/Pine Valley, 7 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 6 at Clymer/Sherman/Panama, at Clymer, 1:30 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 12 at Cattaraugus/Little Valley, 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 19 vs. Salamanca, 7 p.m.

Salamanca's Tyler Hedmund (Harry Scull Jr./ Buffalo News)

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Salamanca Warriors (5-4)

Coach: Paul Haley, fourth season

Home field: Vets Park

Program founded: 1915

Outlook: Twenty of the 28 players on the roster are returnees. The program is coming off a winning year after posting just one victory in the previous two seasons combined. The goal is to reach the sectional final, Haley said. Running backs Ira John (700 yards) and Tyler Hedlund are fourth-year players who were first-team all-league choices. Hedlund made more than 100 tackles at safety. Ira John’s cousin, Asa, is a two-way lineman who was second-team all-league last season. It’s been more than 15 years since Salamanca made a sectional final.

Schedule

Fri., Aug. 31 vs. Cattaraugus/Little Valley, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 7 at Franklinville/Ellicottville, at Ellicottville, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 14 vs. Maple Grove, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 21 vs. Clymer/Sherman/Panama, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 28 at Cattaraugus/Little Valley, 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 5 vs. Olean, 7 p.m.
Sat., Oc.t 13 at Clymer/Sherman/Panama, at Panama, 1:30 p.m.

•••

Cattaraugus/Little Valley Timberwolves (3-6)

Coach: Tim Miller, 23rd season

Home field: Timberwolf Stadium

Program founded: 2000

Outlook: Injuries, including one at quarterback, blunted the Timberwolves’ momentum after a 3-2 start last season. They return five starters on offense and five on defense in hopes of improving their win total for the second consecutive year. Key players include junior RB/LB Nick Burroughs, classmate Vinny Pascarella and senior Sam Grey along with two-way linemen Brodie Hill and Jason Young. Inexperience at quarterback means the Wolves will need to receive solid line play.

Schedule

Fri., Aug. 31 at Salamanca, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 7 vs. Roy-Hart, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 21 at Maple Grove, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 28 vs. Salamanca, 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 5 at Allegany-Limestone, 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 12 vs. Maple Grove, 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 19 vs. Clymer/Sherman/Panama, 7 p.m.

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