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Saturday's key high school football games

-- Maryvale at Cleveland Hill, 2 p.m. Cheektowaga town rivals renew their friendly pleasantries at Carl J. Kuras Field.  Golden Eagles have won eight of last 13 meetings against Maryvale, but the Class B-sized Flyers have won three straight perennial Class C power Cleveland Hill. First meeting on new all-weather surface at Cleve Hill.

Though the Golden Eagles graduated the dynamic running duo of All-Western New York picks Aaron Wahler and Javon Thomas, speed and power remain in the fold in the form of senior running back/linebacker Chris Diem. Diem was a member of the school’s 4x100 state championship relay in 2018 along with Wahler, Thomas and fellow graduate D’Mario Grant.

Maryvale graduated a stud of it own in two-time first team All-WNY Rashad Law but is led by fourth-year starting quarterback Connor Desiderio. The lefty Desiderio has won all three meetings in his career in this rivalry game.

Other big games on Saturday’s docket include:

-- McDowell (Pa.) at St. Joe’s, 1 p.m. The Trojans are 2-0 heading into St. Joe’s for the Marauders’ opener. Last year, McDowell needed overtime to beat the visiting Marauders, 24-21. First game for St. Joe’s sophomore quarterback and Division I prospect Callum Wither from Canada.

-- Niagara Falls at Lockport, 2 p.m. Considering both these teams struggled last year – with Lockport getting its only win of the season against the Wolverines, it’s not a stretch to think the loser of this meeting will have that much more work to do if it wants to qualify for the Class AA playoffs. First meeting between the teams at the newly turfed Max D. Lederer Field.

-- West Seneca West at Kenmore West, 2 p.m. Two-time defending division champion West Seneca West has the look of a team that could make its third straight sectional Class A final. Kenmore West returns eight starters and a sound line from last year’s playoff qualifier and bolstered its offense with the addition of St. Joe’s transfer David Morgan.

-- Burgard at Pioneer, 7 p.m. What can Pioneer do for an encore after reaching the Section VI Class B final? The questions will begin to be answered as the post-Mike Rigerman era begins for the Panthers. Rigerman rushed for more than 2,000 yards and was a standout linebacker during a Connolly Cup-winning season.

Final 2018 News Polls

Large Schools

Rank School (Class) Record Points       LW

1 West Seneca East [7] (A)           11-2   86      4

2 Lancaster [1] (AA)           9-2      74       3

3 West Seneca West  (A)  9-1      67      1

4 St. Francis [1]       5-7      54       NR

5 Bennett (AA)        7-3      47       2

6 Starpoint (A)         7-2      38       6

7 Canisius      5-5      36       5

8 Williamsville North (AA)           6-3      34       7

9 Grand Island         7-2      25       8

10 Orchard Park (AA)        6-3      17       10

Others receiving votes: St. Joe’s 11, South Park 5, Clarence 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 Clymer/Sherman/Panama [7] (D)      13-0   92       7

2 Cheektowaga [2] (B) 9-2           89       3

3 Cleveland Hill [1] (C)      10-2   85       4

4 Pioneer (B)           9-1      72       1

5 Southwestern (C)            9-1      61       2

6 Albion (B)  8-1      44       5

7 Fredonia/Brocton (B)    8-1      39       6

8 Wilson (C) 7-2      32      8

9 Maryvale (B)        5-3      18       9

10 Dunkirk (B)         6-2      8          10

Others receiving votes: Cardinal O’Hara 3, Maple Grove (D) 3, Randolph/Frewsburg (C) 2.

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

Check out results and photos from Thursday and Friday night’s season-opening games.

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