Every week a panel of voters participate in The News' large and small school football polls. Check out this week's polls here.
1. Sweet Home (8-0) [last week's ballot: 1] -- Panthers tend to punch their ticket to The Ralph with authority.
(Interesting note to follow up on my post last week about Sweet Home getting widespread support as No. 1 in NY: this week's National Prep Poll has one New York team mentioned, and it's Aquinas -- which is definitely legitimate).
2. Clarence (8-0)  -- Another big number could be put up Friday night.
3. Orchard Park (7-1)  -- OP has a chance to show that Week Seven fourth-quarter comeback (three touchdowns) at Jamestown was one of those we-already-clinched-a-playoff-spot lack-of-focus deals.
4. Williamsville South (8-0)  -- It'll be a nice night for Williamsville (although probably nicer for South). To completely round things out, North should swing by at halftime and get a shoutout for making the playoffs (and watch alum McDuffie coach East).
5. St. Francis (3-5)  -- 3-0 vs. WNY. Solid win over O'Hara. This ranking still feels a bit tenuous with Lynch out. We'll find out soon enough: Saturday at Canisius. Note to MMA schedule makers for 2011 and beyond: St. Francis-Canisius should be earlier in the season to a) avoid the Section VI semifinals; and b) avoid having the same teams play in back-to-back weeks.
6. St. Joe's (3-5)  -- 2-1 vs. WNY. Big loss at Steubenville, which entered the weekend 6-2 and ranked fifth in Ohio in Division III (third-largest of seven Ohio divisions) by the Associated Press; in the Ohio High School Athletic Association's computer rankings (the ones that decide playoff spots), the Big Red were ranked second of 30 teams in Division III's Region 2.
Big stat from the 59-39 loss at Steubenville: Senior linebacker Dominic Bargnesi with a school-record 31 tackles. Whoa.
7. Canisius (6-2)  -- 2-1 vs. WNY. Great win at Walsh Jesuit (coming into the game, its 6-2 mark put it ninth of 30 teams in Division II's Region 5 computer rankings). Check out video of the winning touchdown here (the link should work, especially if you are on the Crackbook). All of a sudden the Crusaders are poised to power into the playoffs.
Timeout No. 1: As great as the win at Ohio is, the earlier results involving St. Francis and St. Joe's (and Aquinas) have to keep Canisius behind its league mates right now.
Timeout No. 2: While we're taking a Buckeye's glance at some teams:
* Cleveland Heights, which outscored St. Joe's earlier this year, is 4-4 and ranked 19th of 27 teams in Region 1 of Division I -- that's the state's largest classification; other Region I teams ahead of Cleveland Heights: national top 50ers Glenville and St. Edward as well as Solon, St. Ignatius (14th -- routed St. Francis, 47-7) and Mentor.
* Cardinal Mooney, which thumped St. Francis, 42-0, is 5-2 ,sixth in the AP state Region III poll as well as first in the Division III Region 9 computer rankings.
Timeout No. 3: I have seen plenty from the second tier of Class AA in the last two weeks (below), which makes me all the more certain that the MMA three should come ahead of the next two AAers.
8. Jamestown (5-3) [NR] -- They won at Riverside, which won at Kenmore West, which beat Frontier, all last week, to put them atop the heap of second-tier AAs.
9. Kenmore West (6-2)  -- The rest of AA North should be blowing up the Blue Devils' Crackbook pages with kudos after Ken West registered the league's only win to avoid a sweep by AA South.
10. McKinley (6-2)  -- Strongly considered them for No. 8. Might get there next week -- or maybe even higher?
Riverside drops despite a close loss to Jamestown and a close win over Ken West -- if they played McKinley I'd take the Macks because Riverside has had serious trouble scoring and extremely serious trouble with penalties. ... Next up? Frontier, Will North, Lockport, NT, Niagara Falls, Grand Island, Starpoint.
From the I-don't-really-hate-to-say-I-told-you-so dept.: Who was voting for Amherst again? Tigers deserve props for a 6-1 regular season and a home playoff game (their first in forever). They just didn't deserve votes in the top 10, as McKinley's win showed Saturday.
It's a little hard to believe that there are eight Section VI large schools playing for the right to go to The Ralph and one of them is nowhere near getting on my ballot (Will East).
2. Lackawanna (7-1)  -- Talk about a bounce back: They went into Depew and won the game, and won the Wildcat's former spot in this poll. The Steelers had success running on Depew's huge line (including up the middle), they have a big-play-big-moments guy in junior quarterback Christian Smith and they played some really tough defense. We're officially considering the Week Seven loss to Eden one in which they took a team lightly that they shouldn't have taken lightly.
3. Randolph (8-0)  -- Strongly considered moving Cardinals up to No. 2, but Lackawanna won a game that might have been the Class B championship. Cardinals-Red Dragons is a great matchup of names, but I think the result will be something like this poll, where one team is No. 3 and one team is outside the top 10.
4. Alden (8-0)  -- A season worth of questions will be answered Friday night (and perhaps the following week ... and the week(s) after that?).
5. Burgard (6-2)  -- I seriously thought about these Bulldogs ahead of the No. 4 Bulldogs. Extremely impressive shutout of Eden.
6. Depew (7-1)  -- I started the season reluctantly ranking the Wildcats at No. 5 since -- this-may-sound-familiar alert -- they finished off of my year-end ballot due to a first-round exit at home (to eventual finalist Alden).
7. Pioneer (7-1)  -- Solid win at home over Medina gives them another shot at the Steelers.
8. Cardinal O'Hara (5-3)  -- Hawks head down to Steubenville with a bigger challenge than the ones its faces the last two weeks (losses to St. Joe's and St. Francis).
9. Grover Cleveland (8-0)  -- Huge game Friday night with the Hillbillies visiting the big city.
10. Fredonia (7-1) [NR] -- Hugely impressive win over Cleveland Hill (56-14) provides them spot.
Silver Creek still deserves to be ranked. Fredonia's margin of victory over Cleve Hill led to this awkward imagery: a Hillbilly leap-frogging a Black Knight (look out for that armor!).
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taggedHigh school football