There haven't been any games. There isn't a preseason poll. But that doesn't mean we can't size 'em up, right?
If there was a preseason poll, here's what our ballot would look like, based on last year's performances, returning players and the way the wind blows.
A very useful link for me (and you) is our ballot from last year's final poll, which is definitely a starting point for us. Speaking of starting points, for those interested in comparing and contrasting our start and finish to 2009, here's last year's preseason poll.
1. Sweet Home (13-0 last year) -- At least this part was easy. There can't be another answer. Panthers are regarded by national polls as the best team in the state after two straight state titles and some major talent returning.
2. North Tonawanda (13-0) -- Hey, this is easy! Another unarguable (and inarguable) one. Another state champ, one we considered a notch behind Sweet Home last year, one which has some graduation losses that will be interesting to monitor.
3. Orchard Park (7-2) -- Almost have to be here based on history alone.
4. Grand Island (6-4) -- Speaking of great WNY football traditions, Vikings played Sweet Home super-tough last year. That alone earns them major cred. And maybe I'm making up for leaving them out of the preseason poll last year after graduating Alex Nuetz (now on the UB two-deep).
5. Williamsville South (7-2) -- Speaking of UB, quarterback Joe Licata has verbally committed to UB and only has to worry about slinging it to old buddies Phil Stasiak and Kevin O'Connell.
6. Canisius (6-5) -- Returning a dynamic QB in Travis Eman and many other weapons.
7. Lancaster (9-1) -- I think there should be a rule against having Lancaster at OP in Week One. Too soon! Too soon!
8. St. Joe's (6-5) -- As if the rivalry needed more pizzaz, this year we get Eman vs. Chad Kelly and new coach Dennis Gilbert.
9. Iroquois (6-3) -- Some quality talent back, more than A South buddy Hamburg.
10. Riverside (9-1) -- How about this! This year we'll really be able to know where to slot the Frontiers. A new era and a great new field have to have Riverside fired-up despite some significant graduation losses.
See you next week? Just outside the huddle are St. Francis, Hamburg and Jamestown.
1. Southwestern (13-0) -- Forgive me if this isn't the deepest statement: If these guys are not your preseason No. 1 ... well, you crazy.
2. Randolph (12-1) -- Yeah, I put a Class D team here. They're still a defending state champion, they're still a perennial power, and lineman Ben Fluent is still big (6-3, 225).
3. Cheektowaga (10-1) -- Warriors are a defending champ and a program that deserves the benefit of the doubt despite the loss of some major talent.
4. Alden (7-3) -- Return two players who wow'ed em at The Ralph in QB Tyler Stoldt and RB Dakota Peel.
5. Depew (6-3) -- Not thrilled about putting them here after leaving them off last season's final ballot, but they'd be on here somewhere ... and whoa -- wait until you see the sizes of these guys in their capsule in our preview issue.
6. East Aurora (6-3) -- Blue Devils have a lot back from divisional title team along with a key transfer (Cody Kelso).
7. Lackawanna (5-3) -- A preseason small school poll staple. Man, these B's are tough.
8. Burgard (8-2) -- Speaking of tough B's. The Burgard Bulldogs are perhaps the city team in the best position to succeed in the section (great numbers, winning tradition, staff that coached and played sectional ball including coach Jason Kolb and assistant Gary Braun), despite two teams in their division already on this ballot (Cheektowaga, Depew).
9. Eden (9-1) -- A lot of graduation losses and a step up in class have led to not-so-high expectations for a team that finished last year No. 2 ... the Raiders might have Class B right where they want them. They're still going to be tough to stop.
10. Cardinal O'Hara (6-3) -- We'll give the edge to the Hawks over a fellow perennial top 10er in Cleveland Hill.
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taggedHigh school football | Poll