It's the type of matchup that creates a buzz merely for being on the schedule. See, the Catholic schools and the Section VI schools don't play each other often. But when Kraig Kurzanski approached Charlie Comerford about having his Williamsville South squad play Bishop Timon-St. Jude, it wasn't about principle. It was about filling out the schedule with a quality team.
"It happened that we needed a non-league game this year," Kurzanski said. "I spoke with Charlie last basketball season and said if we were looking for a game I'd love to play them. We had the opening and it worked out."
And so Timon will open the season at Williamsville South at 7 tonight as high school football officially kicks off in Western New York.
"I'm excited that we were able to make this happen," Comerford said. "I think it's great to see and great for Western New York. I think it's interesting for fans who follow the All-Western New York teams and the rankings. Coaches, we just want to win games and get better and get the maximum out of our kids. For fans, it's easier to discuss who is better when the teams are playing each other. When we're separated, it's hard to say this team is better than that team or this kid is better than this kid. When you play each other, it's fun for everyone and for a bit of bragging rights."
Both Williamsville South and Timon were ranked in The Buffalo News Top 10 Large School poll last year and both have expectations for success this year.
The Billies return just four starters on offense and four on defense, including second team All-WNY quarterback Trent Ferguson and lineman Greg Crane, who plays both sides of the ball.
"We have a lot of seniors playing for the first time in regular starting roles," Kurzanski said. "They're starting to bond together as a group. You have to build trust within teams. You have to trust that guys are doing what they're asked to do and that you're doing your 1/11th, doing your part."
Timon, meanwhile, returns its entire offensive line along with three All-WNY honorable mentions - quarterback Ryan Dougherty, running back Adam DiMillo and kicker Tom Gioia.
"This is a heck of a litmus test," Kurzanski said. "They've got a good quarterback in Ryan Dougherty and a good offensive line. This is a heck of a task right out of the gate."
Another top matchup tonight involves two great programs and state champions of recent years, including one debuting with a new coach. Tony Truilizio, who moved from Riverside to North Tonawanda this year, opens his Lumberjack career at home against Sweet Home at 7 p.m. The Panthers won back-to-back state titles in 2008-09 while NT won in 2009.
In a rematch of last year's Class AA semifinal won by Jamestown, the Red Raiders host Kenmore West at 7 p.m.
The new lineup in Class B West doesn't waste any time as perennial power Lackawanna heads to Amherst at 6 p.m. Amherst was a playoff team in Class A last year but dropped down in enrollment and landed in B.
There are plenty of opportunities for fans to take in games this weekend. The Buffalo Public Schools are playing their games during the day today to take advantage of classes having not started yet.
The season kicks off at noon with Newfane taking on East at Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion, the first of a double-header that also includes Chautauqua Lake meeting I-Prep/Grover at 3. There are also a pair of games at 4 p.m.: Hamburg vs. South Park at Riverside and Iroquois vs. Hutch-Tech at All High Stadium.
On Saturday there are good options in the afternoon and at night. Orchard Park opens at Lockport (2 p.m.) while Canisius and St. Joe's both open their seasons at home. Canisius hosts Rochester's McQuaid at 1 p.m. while St. Joe's hosts Wilson Magnet at 2.
A marquee matchup of the opening weekend that will be monitored statewide is Aquinas' visit to St. Francis at 7 p.m.
On Sunday, two Section VI teams are in action against Section III (Syracuse area) programs at the Carrier Classic. Riverside opens with Auburn (1-7 last year) at 12:30 p.m. and Clarence takes on defending Section III AA champion West Genesee (10-1 last year) at 3 p.m.

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