Who’s who: The five-team division consists of the Hutch-Tech Engineers, Kenmore West Blue Devils, Lockport Lions, Niagara Falls Wolverines and Riverside Frontiers. Riverside also includes students from non-football playing schools City Honors, Buffalo Arts, MST Seneca, OTC Middle College and Lafayette (which had a team last year). Hutch-Tech also includes students from Emerson and daVinci.
This year’s alignment shift: This division has one fewer team after Niagara-Wheatfield’s enrollment numbers fell to the Class A level; the Falcons now play in A North.
Last year’s champion: Kenmore West was the preseason favorite and backed it up with an undefeated league record; its only losses were both at home, to Orchard Park, 45-19, in Week One and to Jamestown, 33-7, in the Section VI semifinals.
2011 rewind: Kenmore West did not have much trouble inside the division, winning all of its games by at least 18 points. Niagara Falls pulled off a solid playoff win with a home quarterfinal victory over Clarence (which played without some suspended starters). Riverside’s plummet to a winless season (after claiming the title in 2010) was one of the season’s biggest surprises.
Last year’s records: Kenmore West, 7-2, 5-0; Niagara Falls, 5-4, 4-1; Lockport, 4-4, 3-2; Hutch-Tech, 2-7, 1-4; Riverside, 0-9, 0-5.
2011 All-Western New York underclassmen: None.
2011 all-league first-team underclassmen: Lockport juniors OL Tom Furlong, K Kyle Few and James Chambers (special teams), Niagara Falls junior QB Ricky Bailey and sophomore DB K’Shawn Sistrunk, Kenmore West juniors RB Joe Fumerelle and DL Mike Harris, and Hutch-Tech junior DL Jamal Collins. In C North, Lafayette juniors DL Anthony Rodgers and RB Anthony Finch (playing now with Riverside).
Pre-snap read: Signs point towards things being wide open and competitive, which was certainly the case two seasons ago when there was a three-way tie at the top (Riverside won the tiebreaker). Kenmore West lost its main playmakers from last year, so the door seems open for a Niagara Falls or Lockport title. Hutch-Tech is optimistic it is ready to take the next step, while Riverside and new coach Jose Rodriguez are intent on erasing a very non-Riverside-like year last season.
Week One must-see games: Kenmore West must love these openers: After starting with OP last year, it hits the road to face AA South contender Jamestown on Friday night at 7. Speaking of tough starts, Lockport hosts OP at 2 p.m. Saturday. Niagara Falls looks to make a statement at Lancaster on Friday at 7:30. Hutch-Tech is part of an early start Friday as it meets Iroquois at All High Stadium at 4 p.m. Friday. Riverside gets started against Auburn of Section III (Syracuse area) at 12:30 p.m. Sunday at Syracuse’s Carrier Dome.
Scrimmage Saturday: The first day teams could scrimmage was Saturday. Check out notes, quotes, video and reader observations from the action at the Prep Talk blog at buffalonews.com.
Live chats kick off Wednesday: The first of this season’s weekly live chats will be Wednesday at 9 p.m. at buffalonews.com.
At buffalonews.com: Review the complete week-by-week schedule at the high school home page; at the Prep Talk blog, read training-camp reports from nine schools and watch video from players and coaches from Orchard Park, St. Francis, St. Joe’s and Williamsville South.
The countdown concludes: The Monsignor Martin Association (Wednesday) is the final installment. You can review each division within Class AA, A, B, C and D at buffalonews.com.
Season preview coming Thursday: The annual preview issue will have capsules and schedules for all 81 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 and ADs — send rosters to Section VI: If coaches have not done so already, they need to email a roster — in spreadsheet form — to Section VI via firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Keith McShea