October 4, 2011 - 7:05 AM
Every week a panel of voters participate in The News' large and small school football polls.
Here's our shot after three weeks of action.
For reference: Week Four, Week Three, Week Two, Week One and the preseason poll.
1. Orchard Park (5-0) [last week: 1] -- We have a very clear top three, and after seeing them all on Saturday, we have a very clear No. 1. They have not only beaten three top 10 teams on this ballot, they have dominated them. Multi-dimensional, talent all over the field, could be a longggg season.
2. St. Joe's (4-1)  -- Canisius? Check. St. Francis? Check. And both on the road. Very impressive.
3. St. Francis (3-2)  -- Akeel Lynch, who was defended well by St. Joe's in the mud, can be a much different factor on turf. The postseason is on turf.
4. Canisius (2-3)  -- We're not doing this just to get people riled up. We swear. We had Canisius ahead of Clarence two weeks ago, now we're swapping them back. Canisius lost to Cathedral Prep (Pa.) two weeks ago, lost to Walsh Jesuit (Ohio) this past week, something that we think would happen to the schools below as well. Canisius also played the No. 2 team tough. Sneak preview: This might happen again next week since Canisius is at Aquinas Friday night.
5. Clarence (4-1)  -- Red Devil fans hoping Gelz is OK for the stretch run. After West Seneca West visits Friday, the final week of the regular season has the Red Devils at the Red Raiders down in Jamestown for a game that likely decides second place in AA South (and a home playoff game).
6. Sweet Home (5-0)  -- Blowout of Kenmore East doesn't tell us any more about team that toughed out wins over Starpoint and McKinley.
7. Williamsville South (5-0)  -- Billies could be the most underrated team on this ballot. Thursday Night Football this week.
8. Jamestown (4-1)  -- If the Billies aren't the most underrated team on this ballot, then the Red Raiders are. Not to say I told you so, but I had these guys in my top 10 last week before they beat Lancaster. Also own a respectable 31-14 loss at OP.
9. Kenmore West (4-1)  -- Solidified spot in top 10 and perch in AA North with a solid, 20-point win at Lockport.
10. Bishop Timon-St. Jude (5-0) [NR] -- Are they better than any of the teams I go through below? We're not completely sure, but we're leaning to yes here after a quality win at a solid Springville team along with DiMillo being back and running all over the place. Fun Friday football at Fitzpatrick Field with Frannies visiting. First major test for the Tigers.
Who could be next? Lancaster, which (lost to Jamesown and Clarence but) beat Lockport, which (lost to Ken West but) beat Starpoint, which (lost to Sweet Home but) beat McKinley, which (also lost to Sweet Home but) beat 4-1 North Tonawanda, which I definitely have ahead of 4-1 Amherst (especially after the team they lost to, South Park, lost to 1-4 Lake Shore), which beat West Seneca East, which (also lost to Will South) beat Bennett, which beat Hamburg, which beat South Park and Lake Shore and lost at Amherst in OT.
From that list, NT and Starpoint were probably the teams I considered most for the 10th spot -- both ever-so-slightly ahead of Lancaster since those two are on an upswing while Lancaster isn't -- and would you look a this? The Lumberjacks host Starpoint in a quality Niagara County deal on Friday night.
1. Alden (5-0)  -- Can I vote them higher than No. 1? Yes, Depew went for two when it probably should have kicked, but the late FG attempt was a long shot, and if Patterson plays the second half it's not that close.
2. Depew (4-1)  -- Certainly still tucked right behind the Bulldogs after losing to them.
3. Cheektowaga (4-1)  -- Certainly still tucked right behind the Wildcats after losng to them (Week One).
4. Maple Grove (5-0)  -- Thorough win over Randolph leads to a switch of spots.
5. Fredonia (5-0)  -- To go to Cleve Hill and play disciplined defense and offense for what should end up being a division-clinching win, you get rewarded with a big jump here.
6. Lackawanna (4-1)  -- Only loss to Cheektowaga.
7. Cleveland Hill (4-1)  -- Still an explosive team.
8. Randolph (4-1)  -- Swapped spots with Maple Grove after bigger loss than would have been expected.
9. Frewsburg (4-1) [NR] -- Probably should have had them in here last week, not that there was an easy place to put them.
10. Pioneer (5-0)  -- We're not sure what we've got in dealing with those Bs Pioneer keeps beating, but we'll keep them ahead of Silver Creek, Salamanca, Southwestern and St. Mary's.
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