Every week a panel of voters participate in The News' large and small school football polls.
This will be the last poll before the last poll -- the next time voters will fill out a ballot is for the final poll. With that in mind, and with three weeks left in the season, we'll size up how high teams can go.
1. Orchard Park (10-0) [last week: 1] -- Quality second half against Jamestown. Based on what we've seen this season, it would take quite a stumble and quite a finish by either one of the next two teams for the top spot to change.
2. St. Joe's (7-2)  -- Couldn't ask for a much better semifinal pairing at The Ralph Thursday as these guys take on their rival while ...
3. St. Francis (6-3)  -- ... these guys take on Timon; the first time you may recall as The Akeel Lynch Show. We have seen these two teams as part of a separate top three all season. Certainly the No. 2 spot could be on the line two Thursdays from now at The Ralph.
4. Sweet Home (10-0)  -- They did enough to move up past Jamestown. If they put it all together, which is certainly what teams want to be doing at this point of the season, and beat Aquinas, then we could be talking about a whole other top of the poll.
5. Jamestown (8-2)  -- Only two losses to No. 1. Not too shabby.
6. Williamsville South (9-1)  -- Only loss to No. 4. And if QB Ferguson doesn't go out, who knows.
7. Bishop Timon-St. Jude (7-2)  -- I certainly thought St. Mary's would be a stingy out and they were. Repeating: If DiMillo is still playing, I might have these guys higher. They can move up if they get in the way of another episode of that Akeel show.
8. North Tonawanda (7-2)  -- No change here ...
9. Kenmore West (7-2)  -- ... or here ...
10. Bennett (5-4)  -- ... or here.
Who is No. 11? Niagara Falls stays ahead of Clarence due to the quarterfinal win. Part of me still wants to say Canisius could beat those two, and maybe even Bennett, but Crusaders haven't shown anything. They'd certainly need a about-face performance over their rival at The Ralph to crack the top 10.
1. Alden (10-0)  -- Have lived up to No. 1 ranking all year long and get another shot at Hornell.
2. Depew (8-2)  -- Only two losses to No. 1.
3. Cheektowaga (7-2)  -- The Warriors still definitely need to stay here after a one-TD loss to Depew -- without Jackson.
4. Maple Grove (9-0)  -- I've had them here for a while and on Thursday they showed they deserve it. Could they move up? If they play 12 weeks? (Maybe). If they play 13 weeks? (Possibly). If they win in the 13th week? (Probably).
5. Pioneer (8-1)  -- Repeating from last week: The way Class C played out keeps very good B teams -- not to mention the D above -- ahead of the C Ralph reps. Panthers' only loss was at No. 1 in sectional semis. They earned themselves some space between them and other Bs, and certainly other Ds and Cs.
6. Frewsburg (7-3)  -- Bears traded punches with Maple Grove big-time. I did give No. 5 a thought.
7. Southwestern (9-1)  -- The Cs need to be tightly grouped (see below), and while the Trojans are certainly the best of that class, we can't see moving them up higher at this point. However, they keep playing and they certainly could keep rising.
8. Fredonia (8-1)  -- No. 2 in the tightly-grouped Cs with the OT semifinal loss to the Trojans.
9. Cleveland Hill (8-2)  -- No. 3 in the tightly-grouped Cs with the regular-season loss to Fredonia and the 10-0 final loss to Southwestern.
10. Lackawanna (6-3)  -- Upon further review, and after seeing the C & D finals, those teams deserve to move past the Steelers for playing their best football at the end of the season.
The mythical No. 11 remains Randolph. Chautauqua Lake can NOT be voted for simply for winning the DD title. You have to think they would beat the teams you are giving them a spot over. I like the Thunderbirds, think the are a quality team, think they've had a great season. But I can't put them past Randolph, much less the other squads.
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