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 playoffs following a weekend which didn't have a major impact on our ballot.
For reference: Week Six, Week Five, Week Four, Week Three, Week Two, Week One and the preseason poll.
1. Orchard Park (7-0) [last week: 1] -- Not much changed at all on our ballot, so we'll try and spin things forward to the playoffs. When people ask me who I think will win games, I usually say, "What does my poll say?" Which makes these guys a big favorite in AA.
2. St. Joe's (5-2)  -- I would hope reasonable people can agree that this year's St. Joe's team is very good and very talented. Which tells you at what kind of level Ohio football is at (Marauders lost down in Steubenville).
3. St. Francis (4-3)  -- I would hope reasonable people can agree that this year's St. Francis team is very good and very talented. Which tells you at what kind of level Ohio football is at (Red Raiders lost at home to St. Ignatius, 21-20, in OT).
4. Jamestown (6-1)  -- Red Raiders backed up my poll placement of them ahead of Clarence with a solid victory. That win put Jamestown in the other side of the backet as OP, and this poll says they'll meet the Quakers at The Ralph.
5. Clarence (5-2)  -- They lost in Jamestown, but I put Jamestown at No. 4 last week for a reason, that reason being I like the way they've been playing so much that I think they'd beat other teams here, especially if they road-tripped it to Jamestown. This poll says the Red Devils win in the quarterfinals over a Niagara Falls team that has surged of late, but has it surged enough that it is that much better than the Wolverines team that lost at Clarence, 35-0, in Week Three? The poll also says we're looking at another two-fer of OP/Clarence, with OP in a position to avenge last year's sweep with one of its own.
6. Sweet Home (7-0)  -- As has been the case all year, we haven't seen the results nor the performances to put them higher. Panther teams tend to raise their game around this time of year. This poll still has them as the top seed just ahead of the ...
7. Williamsville South (7-0)  -- ... Billies, who displayed a tremendous will as a depleted team came back to beat Amherst on Friday. The brackets cooperate with this poll, which forecasts a rematch at The Ralph.
8. Bishop Timon-St. Jude (6-1)  -- When it comes to this portion of this poll, a 10-0 victory at Randolph is definitely a quality win, despite the large school/small school stuff. I still like what I saw from TImon against the Akeel Lynch Show, which is so good it nearly took down an Ohio superpower. Yes, I liked them enough to nudge them past ...
9. Canisius (3-4)  -- ... the Crusaders. How many people would have said that Timon would be ranked ahead of Canisius when it was time for the teams' meeting? That meeting is Saturday at the Stransky Complex in West Seneca. I saw St. Mary's have little trouble with Cardinal O'Hara. Timon had little trouble with O'Hara. Canisius had a 16-14 halftime lead over O'Hara, enough to move them down.
10. Kenmore West (5-1)  -- I was surprised to see from last week's poll that I was voting for these higher than most. Blue Devils are still a potent group, and, oh-by-the-way, they've won six straight after losing their opener to the No. 1 team in the land. This poll says they win their opener before hosting Jamestown in the semifinals.
Many disagree obviously, but I don't think you can vote for North Tonawanda over the Blue Devils for a few reasons, including NT's opening loss to McKinley (which just lost at Grand Island in a head-scratcher game -- but props to GI for that finish); the lack of Sweet Home on NT's schedule; the 7-0 win over Starpoint was solid but Starpoint is a team that did lose to Lockport. There are no results one can point to that say that Class A is, on a whole, on par with AA this season. One of the few other examples of AA-A matchups is Sweet Home going down to the last second to survive with a win at Frontier, a team that just routed Hamburg and was thumped by Lancaster, Clarence, OP and Jamestown). You can even throw in West Seneca West beating playoff-bound rival WSE last week.
Who would be next on the list? Tough one. Niagara Falls? Starpoint? McKinley?
Amherst? The Tigers looked to me to be on their way to a big win at South. Justin Burke was running strong. Justin Twarog was making good decisions with his arm and legs. Marquis Artis seemed to be everywhere (and hitting hard) on defense. A penalty or two knocked South back to a first-and-long near midfield in the third quarter, just after Trent Ferguson went down, and ka-blam -- Tyler Piasecki makes a long completion to set up the game-tying score and Amherst struggles with turnovers the rest of the way. It didn't look like Amherst was ready to win that kind of big game. But maybe it takes a loss like that to teach them: Tigers at NT could be a fun one.
What about Bennett? The Tigers hosting a playoff game right behind the school at All High is pretty cool as Starpoint visits Friday night. Another one that should be fun.
1. Alden (7-0)  -- This poll (which is exactly he same as last week's) says the Bulldogs repeat. We'll see. We're glad that, while the brackets might look crazy to some, the playoff seedings worked out that Alden (No. 2 seed) is in the opposite side of the bracket as ...
2. Depew (6-1)  -- ... the Wildcats (No. 4 seed), keeping intact the chances of the two teams which have been at the top of this ballot, and the polls, all season long of meeting at The Ralph. The Wildcats will have to do something it couldn't do last year in order to do so, however (beat visiting Lackawanna).
3. Cheektowaga (6-1)  -- Of course, the Warriors (No. 1 seed) would love another shot at Depew after suffering its lone loss inside the blue track in Week One. But will both teams get that shot? A very solid Albion team visits Friday.
4. Maple Grove (7-0)  -- The poll says they're the favorite in Class D, but the road should be fun to watch.
5. Fredonia (7-0)  -- The poll says the defending champs are the favorite in Class C, although we're interested to see what the C Southerners bring this weekend. That might alter our outlook a bit.
6. Lackawanna (6-1)  -- Coach Tardif and the upperclassmen have an easy speech: So we're going on the road against a team that has been ranked as a top two small school all season? No big deal, we did it last year and went to The Ralph.
7. Pioneer (7-0)  -- The poll says that the Panthers (No. 3 seed in B) are a step behind our top three on this ballot. That's why they play the games, starting with a rematch with an always-stingy Eden squad that just routed a Springville team that gave most of the division (including Pioneer) a hard time. Panthers beat Eden, 17-0, three short weeks ago, the start of an impressive three-game shutout streak.
8. Randolph (5-2)  -- Didn't think a tough, 10-0 home loss to a ranked large school was any reason to move them down at all. The poll says the No. 2 seed in D gets another shot at Maple Grove at The Ralph, but the bracket and the polls say that the Cardinals won't get there unless they can beat the ...
9. Frewsburg (5-2)  -- ... Bears (No. 3 seed in D), who are probably hungry to prove that two-point at Randolph was a longgggg time ago. And it was (Week One).
10. Cleveland Hill (6-1)  -- Moving your home playoff game to a different field? Yup. If that sounds strange, this might sound even stranger: the move of Saturday's quarterfinal against Westfield to Depew should benefit the Eagles big-time. The Golden Eagles -- and QB Daryl Spencer -- have some speed and some moves, but all I remember seeing in their second half against Fredonia was a bunch of slipping and sliding.
Who's next? A bunch of s-words, the first two of which could certainly win the C title: Salamanca, Southwestern, Silver Creek and St. Mary's.
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