Every week a panel of voters participate in The News' large and small school football polls.
Here's our shot as we head to the semifinals after some interesting results, both in Section VI and the Monsignor Martin Association.
1. Orchard Park (8-0) [last week: 1] -- No pressure: If it was possible for them to be a bigger AA favorite, the quarterfinal results may have done that, notably with believed-to-be-top-challenger Jamestown with a quizzically tough time with Lockport.
2. St. Joe's (6-2)  -- Marauders and Kelly put up some more eye-popping numbers Saturday, welcome Timon this week in a game which has the regular season title on the line. St. Joe's is 3-0, Timon 2-1 and ...
3. St. Francis (5-3)  -- ... the Red Raiders are 2-1 as they host Canisius. Raiders and Lynch also put up some more eye-popping numbers Saturday.
4. Sweet Home (8-0)  -- Down goes Clarence, down goes Jamestown (in the poll), up come the Panthers after a drama-free quarterfinal win.
5. Williamsville South (8-0)  -- Down goes Clarence, down goes Jamestown (in the poll), up come the Billies, who continue to put forth impressive performances.
I'll try and say it before you do: A week after I said there's nothing that says A is better than AA by and large, I move these two A powers past those aforementioned AAs, but I certainly think for good reason.
6. Bishop Timon-St. Jude (7-1)  -- If standout sophomore running back Adam DiMillo's arm wasn't broken, these guys might be at No. 4. As I said after the St. Francis game, Ryan Dougherty can really throw it and Jordan Williams can definitely catch it. The line might have been smaller than Canisius' but played great football in the second half. This Charlie Comerford thing is working out just fine, huh? These Tigers are prototypical Timon. A South Buffalo crew that might be undersized, might not have as much talent as their opponent, but they're going to play smart, good football and they're going to play their butts off. That's what happened Saturday at Canisius.
Another I'll say it before you do: While my name is McShea, I'm not from South Buffalo. I"m from South New York (downstate). I was just obviously impressed, for very good reason, with the Canisius win.
7. Jamestown (7-1)  -- Head-scratcher of the week had a team that had been dominating AA South teams having to eek one out against the third-place Lockport team (which lost to Lancaster, in addition to Kenmore West and Niagara Falls). Nice job Lockport, nice job Jamestown getting the win, but a game like that in Week Eight will drop you three spots. The Red Raiders' prior performances are enough to just keep them ahead of ...
8. Kenmore West (7-1)  -- ... the Blue Devils. Super-gutsy call to go for two pays off. But an OT win over Lancaster harkens us back to those Jamestown prior performances (Raiders routed Lancaster).
9. North Tonawanda (7-1) [NR} -- Hadn't voted for them until now and we had our reasons. Some losses opened the door on our ballot. Lumberjacks earn the spot with seven straight wins, including their best two of the year in two of the last three weeks over Starpoint and Amherst. The scores of the games still lead us to thinking they are a step behind other squads here -- Starpoint was a 7-0 win, Amherst was an OT win.
10. Niagara Falls (5-3) [NR] -- Basketball season is just around the corner, but this is still the football poll. With a win over Clarence, despite whatever troubles the Red Devils were having, is impressive. Three losses for NF? An avenged loss at Clarence, Kenmore West and at Jamestown. Not bad.
Wolverines just beat out Bennett and the offensive line nicely dubbed "Fogan's Heroes" by Intense Milks Game of the Week play-by-play guy Rich Kozak. We'll stick with our stance that we'll take AA over A in most cases this year, in addition to the Tigers' having a loss to West Seneca East (in which standout RB Javon Fogan did not play). Bennett also lost at South; their record is 5-3 because a season-opening rout of Grand Island was reversed by a forfeit that was caused by a paperwork issue causing a player to be ineligible.
OK, Clarence had a good season. They are a very good team. The record (5-3 with losses at OP and Jamestown entering last week) shows it and they deserved their ranking. But going out the way they did, it's hard to say, oh, they woulda-coulda-shoulda beat Falls, which mean they woulda-coulda-shoulda beat someone else. Can't trust them enough to vote for them, frankly.
OK, the one some of you have been waiting for: Canisius. They are still a talented team, which is why I've had them in the poll most of the season. I have seen the play twice at home and both times they have shown flashes but then they have been beaten -- by better teams (top six teams Joe's and TImon) -- but they've helped beat themselves with questionable decisions and mistakes. The loss to Timon has to sting, and it should. Can't trust them enough to vote for them over teams like Falls or NT that have stepped up in big games against quality opponents. The thing is: Canisius still have a three-week season (or maybe even a four-week season) to work it out, starting with a trip to St. Francis on Saturday night, followed by a Monsignor Martin quarterfinal, and, one would think, a trip to the Ralph for the semifinals.
1. Alden (8-0)  -- Bulldogs keep rolling (with Justin Patterson out) and welcome in a Pioneer team that is rollllllling Friday night. Should be a fun one.
2. Depew (7-1)  -- Wildcats' win over Lackawanna is bigger than most first-rounders for top-ranked teams. Last year's hangover was still there. Now it's not, and with that behind them the Wildcats are a confident bunch. They head to the shadow of the Galleria to try and beat, as they did in Week One, the ...
3. Cheektowaga (7-1)  -- ... Warriors, who are rolling along themselves -- 7-0 since the Week One loss at Depew that was even at the half. Should be another fun one Friday night. Argh. Where am I gonna go?
4. Maple Grove (7-0)  -- Rested up after bye week.
5. Fredonia (8-0)  -- Hillbillies keep rolling and check this out -- they host Southwestern in a rematch of last year's sectional title game. Another great matchup.
6. Pioneer (8-0)  -- Was quite tempted to bump them past Fredonia. While Eden is a tough out, it was also a win over a team the Panthers have already beaten, so there's just a sliver of not-knowing-how-good-these-guys-are keeping us from giving them that bump. Of course, as is the case throughout these polls, they can give themselves a great bump to The Ralph if they're able to pull off a win at Alden.
7. Lackawanna (6-2)  -- First playoff-eliminated team to get a vote from me this season. As not-great as they looked against Depew, let's remind everyone: Depew is GOOD. A 14-0 loss in the field surrounded by the blue track is no great shame, and it's a result we think would come against anyone below on this ballot.
8. Randolph (5-2)  -- Another D power coming off relaxing bye week to face ...
9. Frewsburg (5-2)  -- ... a hungry Bears team eager to prove that the two-point loss at Randolph was a longgggg time ago, which it was (Week One).
10. Cleveland Hill (7-1)  -- The win over Westfield, along with Akron's win at Salamanca, keeps the Golden Eagles here. Cleve Hill hosts Akron (at Depew) after beating them in the regular season, and they get the final spot here ahead of Southwestern.
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