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Saturday's top scholastic football games

-- Chautauqua Lake/Westfield Thunderbirds (4-3) at Cleveland Hill Golden Eagles (6-1), 2 p.m. at Carl J. Kuras Field. It’s the lone Section VI playoff game of the day. This Class C clash takes center stage at Cleveland Hill’s newly renovated home field.`

The game features two of Western New York’s all-time best coaches matching wits against each other in Cleve Hill’s Glen Graham (109 wins) and Chautauqua’s Curt Fischer (225).

The Golden Eagles will try to play their usual power-speed game: Overpower CL/Westfield at the point of attack and watch as one of their fast running backs/quarterbacks break off a big gain. Aaron Wahler (82 rushes, 967 yards, 17 touchdowns) and Javon Thomas (88-930-12) both average over 10 yards per carry.

Linebacker Chris Diem leads the defense with 63 tackles, including three for losses, while Curtis Krajewski leads the Eagles with 3.5 sacks.

This is Fischer’s first year as pilot of the Thunderbirds after 25 years leading Maple Grove. He guided the Red Dragons to back-to-back state Class D title-game appearances before leaving the program last winter.

Ryan Jafarjian has been running the rock with authority for CL/Westfield. Last week, he rushed 16 times for 107 yards and two touchdowns in a 21-8 win over Silver Creek/Forestville. Zach Fischer added three catches for 57 yards and a touchdown.

Other top games on the schedule include:

St. Francis Red Raiders (2-5) at Canisius Crusaders (3-4), 1 p.m. at Stransky Complex. St. Francis comes in on a three-game losing streak, but two of the defeats were by a combined total of eight points. Red Raiders lost 55-49 shootout to Section V’s Aquinas last week – the closest showing by any of the Monsignor Martin teams this season against the perennial state power. Sophomore quarterback Jake Ritts has thrown for 2,029 yards, 24 touchdowns and just five interceptions on 151-of-236 passing for St. Francis.

Canisius would likely be in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the postseason with a win since it’s already beaten St. Joe’s. Joel Nicholas and Joe Jamison have been shouldering the load running the ball for Canisius. Nicholas averages 7.4 yards per carry and has scored nine TDs, Jamison averages 8.7 per carry and has rushed for two scores. He also has two TD receptions and a return touchdown.

Bennett Tigers (5-2) at Niagara Falls Wolverines (1-6), 1 p.m. at Niagara Falls Athletic Complex. Playoff seeding could be on the line for Bennett here pending Friday night’s Orchard Park versus Lancaster outcome. A Lancaster win means Bennett can clinch the top seed in Class AA with a win over the Wolverines.

On the web

At buffalonews.com, read Jonah Bronstein’s coverage of the Orchard Park versus Lancaster contest.

Also, in case you missed it, check out the Football Friday feature on McKinley’s Kaiyer Fields. Also, Buffalonews.com has archives of all high school features and stories done during the fall season, including Rachel Lenzi’s feature on Southwestern quarterback and Rutgers commit Cole Snyder.

News Football Polls

Brackets indicate first-place votes

*–Indicates tie in voting

Large Schools

Rank School (Class) Record Points       LW

1 West Seneca West [7] (A)         7-0      77      1

2 Lancaster (AA)     6-1      64       3

3 Orchard Park (AA)           6-1      52       4

4 West Seneca East (A)     6-1      50      2

5 Bennett (AA)        5-2      45       8

6 Williamsville North (AA)           5-2      39       5

7 Starpoint (A)         6-1      33       6

8 Canisius [1]           3-4      26       7

9 Grand Island         6-1      18       NR

10 South Park (A)   5-2      15       10

Others receiving votes: St. Joe’s 12, St. Francis 8. Jamestown 1.

Pollsters: Mark Adair (WNY Football Weekly), Sean Bruso (Lancaster assistant coach), Sibby Constantino (Trench Trophy), Rick Coburn (Trench Trophy), Dick Gallagher (WNY High School Sports), Tom Langworthy (Jamestown coach), John Lewis (Connolly Cup), Rich Robbins (Canisius coach), Miguel Rodriguez (Buffalo News), Dennis Sarow (Connolly Cup).

Small Schools Polls

Rank School (Class) Record Points       LW

1 Pioneer [8] (B)     7-0      80       1

2 Southwestern (C)            7-0      67       2

3 Albion (B)  7-0      64       3

4 Cheektowaga (B) 6-1     54       4

5 Fredonia/Brocton (B)    7-0      48       7

6 Cleveland Hill (C) 6-1      37       7

7 CSP (D)       7-0      31       9

8 Maryvale (B)        5-2      28       4

9 Dunkirk (B)           6-1      17       6

10 Wilson (C)           6-1      14      10

Others receiving votes: None.

Pollsters: Adair, William Atlas (Wilson), Bruso, Constantino, Gallagher, Lewis, Sarow, Angelo Sciandra (Tonawanda assistant coach), Rodriguez, Ed Sciera (Trench Trophy), Jay Sirianni (Southwestern).

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