Every week a panel of voters participate in The News' large and small school football polls, and every week we tell you how The News voted.
The News is one of 10 voters on the large and small school polls.
1. Canisius (6-0)  -- To me, this is a clear choice. Not a bad three weeks with the win at Walsh Jesuit in Ohio, a domination of St. Francis and a second-half domination of Aquinas. Tyler Mascio is giving them great QB play, Denzel Benton is a major threat at WR, the line keeps doing work in front of RB Qadree Ollison, and the defense has been excellent.
2. Jamestown (5-1)  -- This was probably the toughest top 10 of the season. I'm rewarding the Red Raiders for a very impressive victory over Orchard Park. They kind of out-OP-ed OP: Very good, mobile QB in Jake Sisson, big receivers like Stephen Carlson consistently getting open, video-game moves from RB Da'Quan Hollingsworth, big guys like John Czech and Cortland Haines doing top trench work.
"But what about the loss at Frontier just two weeks ago?" All I can say is that Frontier is a tough team, I've got them in my top 10, and this ballot is what I came up with after watched four top 10 teams this past weekend.
3. Orchard Park (5-1)  -- After the loss, they have to be behind Jamestown (a surprising amount of pollsters disagree obviously). However, they have to be righhhht behind them because it was a close game, and sure, if the game is at OP or a neutral site, perhaps it goes the other way. I'm not so sure. OP played very well despite QB Ben Holmes going out (with the score 21-7 Jamestown at the time). Reserve sophomore QB Kevin Goltz was outstanding coming in a very tough spot.
4. St. Joe's (6-0)  -- The game at Lockport was outstanding. Competitive game, great setting, great matchup. We need more of those kind of games.
What, I'm not getting to the point? :-)
I saw Jamestown and OP Friday night. About 16 hours later, I saw St. Joe's win at Lockport, 30-25, in a game they were trailing in the fourth quarter after being down, 18-7, at half. In Week One, I also saw OP win at Lockport going away. That is indeed part of trying to make sense out of all this stuff. If St. Joe's beats Lockport like OP did, it's quite likely they'd be No. 2.
The Marauders at No. 1? No way.
I think the Aquinas and St. Francis games provide a very clear distinction between Canisius and St. Joe's.
The Aquinas games: Canisius gave up an opening touchdown then dominated much of the rest of the way this past weekend (35-7); it three scoring drives that went back to its own 1. A week earlier, St. Joe's jumped to a 21-0 lead behind three touchdowns by a quarterback that was impossible to have been scouted and ended up with a 27-14 win. St. Joe's was indeed on the road, Canisius at home; but I consider that a wash with the Lombardi factor -- Aquinas standout running back Billy Lombardi appears to have been healthier for Canisius than he was for St. Joe's.
The St. Francis games: St. Joe's jumps to early 28-7 lead in Week Three, again with an offense completely different than their previous games (Nigel Davis at QB instead of Tyler Hill), then holds on for 28-21 victory in scoreless second half. Canisius, also at home, had a 7-6 lead on St. Francis and then dominated for a 51-18 win in Week Five.
Then there's the rest of the schedule: Canisius won at Walsh Jesuit in Ohio, won at St. Mary's (we know know that our first impressions as a "struggle" game for Canisius is not valid after St. Mary's also gave Timon a tough time in South Buffalo and also beat St. Francis at home) and beat Section V's McQuaid handily in the season opener (it's the only loss for McQuaid, which is in Section V's top 10 and rated its fourth-best A school).
The rest of St. Joe's schedule is a rout of overmatched Bennett, a rout of way overmatched Cardinal O'Hara and a 56-34 season-opening win over Wilson Magnet, which is 3-3, lost to McQuaid, 24-7, two weeks ago and is not ranked in Section V.
The two common opponents show a clear advantage to Canisius. The three other opponents are not even close when you look at the strength-of-schedule.
To me, polls are about reliability, consistency as the season goes on. It's about who I think I can trust. With my top three teams, I think I know what I'm getting. No. 4 has had three two-game seasons, each one with a different quarterback. That's giving me trust issues :-). But seriously, those are not new. St. Joe's fans certainly won't like it, but I've been consistent in my take on the Marauders.
5. Bishop Timon-St. Jude (4-2)  -- Host St. Joe's Friday night in what should be an outstanding enviornment at Fitzpatrick Field. I've thought highly of the Tigers all season, and the next six weeks will show us where they belong: vs. St. Joe's, vs. Canisius, at St. Francis; then the playoffs.
6. Sweet Home (6-0)  -- For the next two A teams, the events in AA land are a bummer. Both the Panthers and West Seneca East move down on my ballot because Jamestown shot up. It's part of the reason this week's ballot is super tough.
In most other scenarios, the Panthers deserve to go up after routing Williamsville North. The win underlined why Sweet Home should be considered at level high above the rest of A North, including fellow unbeaten Grand Island (this year's schedule unfortunately did not have the Panthers and Vikings getting together). However, the lack of depth in Class A leaves Sweet Home and WSE here. Either team might just be a top three team, perhaps even higher. But we won't be able to fully judge that for a few more weeks.
7. West Seneca East (6-0)  -- See above. Trojans have taken care of their business very handily this season. The next chapter of a special season for Team 43 is hosting rivalry game with West Seneca West Friday.
8. Lockport (4-2)  -- I've thought the Lions were good since the opening loss to OP and they showed it again against St. Joe's. Again, they only moved down because Jamestown shot up.
9. Frontier (5-1)  -- The Falcons tread water for the same reason, but I moved them past McKinley because -- this is not news -- AA South is some tough stuff. While a lingering question (especially for me after putting this ballot together) is how did Jamestown lost at Frontier, the bigger question is ... how did Frontier lose its opener to West Seneca West?
10. McKinley (4-2)  -- Two AA South teams move past them, Jamestown and Frontier.
I continue to see the Macks as being a notch higher than the likes of Grand Island and Iroquois. The way Clarence has been playing, they actually might be 10a. Is Williamsville South back after a rout of Williamsville East team we've voted for this season?
1. Alden (6-0)  -- I would like to thank Alden and many small schools for making this a much easier ballot to fill out.
2. Cheektowaga (6-0)  -- The Warriors earn the spot after not only winning at Lew-Port, which had put together some nice victories, but dominating the game by halftime. Whoa.
3. Depew (5-1)  -- Crowded at the top here. I think Depew might very well be the No. 2 in B, but the Cheektowaga win at Lew-Port was too dominant, over too good a team, not to move them up.
4. St. Mary's (4-2)  -- Did I mention crowded? Landmark St. Francis win had me thinking of elevating the Lancers, but we also remain big fans of Depew.
5. Maple Grove (6-0)  -- Red Dragons continue to take care of business and separate themselves in a tough division.
6. Burgard (5-1)  -- Win at Tonawanda closer than expected. What does that mean? Bad news for NT in the T-NT game.
7. Lew-Port (4-2)  -- The last four spots are a little wacky. Lew-Port has enough wins in the Wild B West, plus the victory over solid A team South Park, to stay here despite the nightmare of Cheektowaga's visit.
8. Salamanca (5-1)  -- So tough to gauge Class C teams (don't even get me started on the North), but we give these Warriors credit for their record, which includes only a zany OT one-point defeat to Southwestern.
9. Randolph (4-2) [NR] -- On a very strong run down in D, big win over Chautauqua Lake last week.
10. Eden (5-1) [NR] -- Gutsy win at Pioneer definitely worthy of a spot.
I mentioned C North above. Cleveland Hill heads to JFK to decide the title of a league in which Akron, Fredonia and Wilson have all been very competitive with each other -- and would likely be competitive with some teams at the bottom of the ballot. But which one to choose? Give us a week :-)
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