Every week of the football season, nine voters rated Western New York's best teams from 1 to 10 in the large and small school polls. The News has one vote in each poll.
Remember night owls: this is just our vote. The complete final polls will be published in Saturday's All-Western New York edition.
1. Orchard Park (13-0) [last poll: 1] - For us, a no-brainer.
2. Sweet Home (13-0)  - You'll hear this a little further down the page as well: We don't really want to pick between two state champions, but hey, a poll's a poll, so we have to. Like I've written before, a good problem to have for Western New York football. If Sweet Home doesn't let Burnt Hills back in the state championship game, the argument for the Panthers is much stronger, but OP would be our No. 1 regardless.
3. North Tonawanda (9-1)  - I wrote that they'd move up our chart if St. Francis beat Canisius, and here they are. Gave OP a very tough test at The Ralph.
4. St. Francis (4-6)  - Record against WNY: 4-1 with a Monsignor Martin Association League AA championship after avenging its regular-season loss to Canisius, our No. 3 team in the last poll. For those who want to howl about a team with a record like this being in a spot like this, we've been singing this song all season: a poll is a poll because you're trying to measure teams against each other regardless of record; and we don't think the teams below them in the poll would fare any better against the out-of-towners the Red Raiders took their lumps against.
5. Canisius (6-4)  - Losses are to St. Francis, Aquinas and Ohio powers St. Ignatius and Walsh Jesuit. Some pollsters have Canisius higher than St. Francis after the Crusaders lost the championship game to the Red Raiders. That makes absolutely no sense. Illogical explanations are welcome in the comments section below.
6. Riverside (10-1)  - The Harvard Cup champions dominated their league and lost only to Aquinas (St. Francis and Canisius are ranked higher because both played Aquinas much closer). A resume like that deserves this spot.
7. Lancaster (6-3)  - From here on down, the group is in the same order as the previous poll, a pack that was passed by both St. Francis and Riverside. Redskins lost at OP, lost in playoffs at NT. Clear No. 2 in AA South, clear No. 3 in AA (ahead of Kenmore West).
8. Kenmore West (6-3)  - Two losses at OP, one loss at NT. Semifinal loss at OP (28-13) was the same exact score as NT's loss at The Ralph, the closest margin of victory the Quakers would have until the state championship game.
9. Iroquois (8-2)  - I have nothing against the Chiefs: great program, great tradition, great kids, great coach, great field, great announcer, great totem pole, great fireworks, great concession stand, great scoreboard. But I am still stupified that other pollsters totally gave them a pass on losing big at home to Clarence in Week Seven. That's Week Seven, not Week One or Two. And that's Clarence, not Orchard Park, Lancaster or North Tonawanda (all of whom beat Clarence), or Jamestown (which beat Clarence and lost to Kenmore West).
10. Grand Island (7-2)  - Loss at home to Sweet Home, close loss in playoffs to Iroquois tucks them right behind the Chiefs.
1. Maple Grove (13-0)  - What did I say to the Maple Grove fans all year? Keep winning and things will take care of themselves.
2. Southwestern (13-0)  - See Nos. 1 and 2 in the large schools for our take on reluctantly having to choose. Maple Grove's downright dismantling of vaunted Walton (which supposedly was the best team in Section IV in any class) and some comparitive scores does give the edge to Maple Grove. And that's how we place teams in polls. Now, does this mean I think Maple Grove would beat Southwestern? Not really. I think it would of course be a great game -- I (and others) had concerns about Southwestern's pass defense against the record-setting Red Dragons, but don't you think the Trojans and coach Jay Sirianni would have something up their sleeve? Both teams are terrific. This debate will last, oh, about forever.
3. Lackawanna (10-1)  - In any other year, the Steelers are remembered as Section VI champions. But this season, they're unfairly the answer to the question: "So which team didn't win a state title?"
4. Fredonia (8-2)  - Two losses to Lackawanna. No great shame there. Depth-wise, we'll still take Class B over C and D.
5. Alden (8-1)  - Loss in playoffs to Fredonia ended outstanding season. Here they come in hoops.
6. Silver Creek (8-2)  - Not a bad resume: two losses to the state champs (Southwestern).
7. Cleveland Hill (8-1)  - Loss in playoffs to Silver Creek keeps a very good Golden Eagles team here.
8. Clymer (9-1)  - One loss was to Maple Grove, and it was a big 'un (just like all of Maple Grove's wins).
9. Depew (6-3)  - Lost to Alden, Lancaster and in playoffs to Lackawanna.
10. Cardinal O'Hara (6-4)  - Definitely deserve a top 10 spot but hard to move them up when they won on the final play and have plenty of smudges on the resume (unlike the other nine here).
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taggedHigh school football