By Keith McShea
Who’s who: The seven-team division consists of the Akron Tigers, Cleveland Hill Golden Eagles, JFK Bears, Lackawanna Steelers, Newfane Panthers, Tonawanda Warriors and Wilson Lakemen.
This year’s alignment shift: With the move of Fredonia and Gowanda down to C South and the addition of Tonawanda and Lackawanna (both down from B West) and Newfane (down from B East), the division gains a team and truly becomes a division of all "northern" teams. Newfane is a B-sized school playing in Class C; it can earn a chance to enter the Class B playoffs if it wins at least four league games to finish in either first or second place.
Last year's champion: Cleveland Hill lost the league title on the final day of the regular season, which dropped them to fourth place, but then had a postseason to remember. The Golden Eagles then went down to C South champion Salamanca and won a 28-21 quarterfinal before adding a rout at Wilson (42-7) to earn a spot at The Ralph, where it beat Fredonia, 22-20, for the Section VI Class C championship. The Golden Eagles fell in the Far West Regionals to Section V (Rochester area) champion Hornell, 27-6; Hornell went on to lose in the state final.
2012 rewind: JFK had a storybook regular-season finish with a Week Seven home win over rival Cleve Hill in which the Bears used a last-minute two-point conversion to earn a 29-28 victory and the program's first title since 1975. Five of the division's six teams won postseason games last year, as the top four swept their Class C South opponents in the Section VI quarterfinals while Akron, which just missed the playoffs, went on to win the Chuck Funke Classic Bowl in Class C consolation play. Fredonia knocked off JFK in the semifinals.
Last year's records: JFK 7-2, 4-1; Cleveland Hill 8-3, 3-2; Fredonia 7-3, 3-2; Wilson 6-3, 3-2; Akron 6-3, 2-3; Gowanda 0-8, 0-5. In Class B West, Lackawanna 3-6, 1-5; Tonawanda 2-7, 1-5. In Class B East, Newfane 1-8, 0-6.
2012 All-Western New York underclassmen: Lackawanna junior DB Cameren Smith was a second-team selection. Cleveland Hill juniors RB Brandon Thomas and DB Jared Watkins were both honorable mentions.
2012 all-league first-team underclassmen: Cleveland Hill juniors Watkins, Thomas and LB Josh White; Akron juniors WR Austin Lauricella and OL Tommy James. In Class B West, Lackawanna junior RB Smith (he was also the division's co-Offensive Player of the Year).
Pre-snap read: Cleveland Hill deserves to be the favorite as it defends its title with some top returning talent. It's an intriguing year to see how Lackawanna's program will fare in a lower classification after struggling in 2012. Tonawanda is excited to open its new Clint Small Stadium -- now on school grounds -- with a Week Two contest against Lackawanna.
Week One (Sept. 6-7) must-see game: Three league games will kick things off, but the matchup with the most buzz is in Cheektowaga as Cleveland Hill heads to rival Maryvale of Class B North in a nonleaguer.
Scrimmage Saturday: The first day teams can scrimmage other schools is Saturday. Cleveland Hill again welcomes Cardinal O'Hara and Burgard at 9:30 a.m. Lackawanna joins Iroquois at Frontier at 10 a.m. The schedule of Western New York scrimmages is available at the Prep Talk blog at buffalonews.com.
Prep Talk blog at buffalonews.com: Watch exclusive [BN]TheLockerRoom video of Canisius coach Rich Robbins' initial address to his team, look over the entire 2013 week-by-week schedule and watch #preptalkpreseason video interviews with 29 head coaches (with more to come). Interviews from Sweet Home, Jamestown, Randolph, Fredonia and Springville were posted Tuesday.
Live chats & PrepTalkTV: The first of the weekly Wednesday night live chats will be Sept. 4 at 9 p.m. at buffalonews.com. The PrepTalkTV schedule will be released soon.
The countdown continues: B South (Thursday), B North (Friday), A South (Saturday), A Central (Sept. 1), A North (Sept. 2), Class AA (Sept. 3) and the Monsignor Martin Association (Sept. 4). Already published: Class C South (Tuesday), Class D (Monday) and DD (Sunday). You will be able to review them all at the Prep Talk blog.
Season preview coming Sept. 5: The annual preview issue will have capsules and schedules for all 78 teams in Western New York, along with feature stories, a must-see cover and everything else one needs to know about the 2012 season.
Attention coaches & ADs: As soon as they are determined, Section VI coaches need to send a roster — in spreadsheet form — to [email protected] Monsignor Martin coaches should email rosters to [email protected]
Friday Night Live at buffalonews.com: Every week, the place to monitor all of the Friday night action is BuffaloNews.com and the Prep Talk blog. We will have video reports, photos, live updates from several top games (including play-by-play from our premier matchup of the night) and you will again be a part of the team via Twitter: Tweet game updates with the #preptalkscores hashtag and those will appear in our live blog.
taggedAkron | Cleveland Hill | Football | High school football | JFK | Lackawanna | Newfane | Tonawanda | Wilson