The first Power 10 of the winter season is being published today. And as we tip off what will be another weekly look at the best of Western New York high school sports, we’re also taking a look back as we announce the final Power 10 for what was an eventful — and impressive — fall season.
The fall is by far the busiest season of the high school sports year, with weekdays jam-packed with games and a tremendous lineup of meets and invitationals on the weekends. The list starts with football and goes on with several sports — for boys and girls. When you total all of the sports up, the list of those held in the fall nearly matches up with the combined list for the winter and spring.
Which makes picking an overall Power 10 extremely tough — especially when you consider some of the outstanding accomplishments put forward this season.
What gets a team in the Power 10? Being the best in its particular sport in Western New York is a good start. From there, we try to gauge not only how dominant a team is locally, but how it stacks up regionally, state-wide, and even nationally.
We try to truly honor the best of the best, and that’s not easy. A bit of perspective: Winning a Section VI or Monsignor Martin championship is not easy. However, when you add up all the champions from each sectional classification as well as the Monsignor Martin’s winners, you get more than 40 teams — and that’s just the sports that determine traditional team champions. There’s also sports like girls swimming, golf, tennis and gymnastics.
It takes a ton to get on this list, much less reach the top. Here we go.
1. Clarence girls swimming. The Red Devils not only won the state championship (for the second straight year), they utterly dominated the meet. Junior Dina Rommel starred as the Red Devils won four championships: she was part of a sweep of all three relays while she also won the 50 freestyle. Sydney Modeas took second in the 500 free. Clarence amassed 286 points, 111 ahead of runner-up Niskayuna of Section II (Albany area), to earn the top spot among 96 schools while setting two state records and establishing five All-American times.
A few weeks later, Clarence coach Joe Zwierzchowski heard from a friend whose daughter swims at Cortland State. Cortland and several other teams were competing at Ithaca College — which hosted the state meet Clarence dominated in its new facility. By the end of the collegiate meet, two of Clarence’s relay wins remained pool records.
2. Canisius football. The Crusaders were not only dominant locally, they were unbeaten, and made history on several fronts. With Buffalo News Players of the Year Qadree Ollison and Ryan Hunter leading the way, Canisius went 11-0 to win the Monsignor Martin Association title and become the first Monsignor Martin large school to go undefeated since 1998. It earned the ultimate state-wide honor when the New York State Sportswriters Association put the Crusaders at No. 1 in the final Class AA poll, which they shared with New Rochelle.
3. East Aurora cross country. The Blue Devils spent most of the season at or near the top of the Power 10 for good reason, dominance at the local level and statewide ranking. The EA girls did not win a state title but finished the season with a tremendous, fourth-place showing at the Nike Cross Nationals. One could argue that EA should be higher than this spot. While New York State cross country is among the very best in the nation, it would be tough to put a team that didn’t win a state title over those that did.
4. Canisius boys soccer. For a Western New York team to win a state Catholic championship in soccer is a major accomplishment, as it necessitates a victory over highly regarded downstate teams. The Crusaders did just that with a win over Long Island’s Chaminade for the first state soccer in school history. The achievement earned them votes in the final national poll of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
5. St. Mary’s girls volleyball. The Lancers won their 13th state Catholic title, and along the way they clearly established themselves as the best team in Western New York (including multiple wins over Eden, as well as several Section VI large schools). In the prepvolleyball.com final poll, St. Mary’s was the highest ranked team from New York.
6. Eden girls volleyball. Ho-hum — another state title for the Raiders. Seriously, the Raiders continued their legacy as one of the best programs in the state in any sport. Its 10th state title extends their record total (Eden set the state girls volleyball record last year).
7. Maple Grove girls cross country. Make it three straight Class D state championships for the Red Dragons, led by Section VI individual champion Hope Pietrocarlo.
8. Randolph football. The Cardinals confirmed their place as one of the state’s best Class D football programs with their third state championship in eight years.
9. Alden, Orchard Park and Sweet Home football. Dominant locally, the No. 1 small school (Alden) and No. 2 (OP) and No. 3 (Sweet Home) large schools went on deep, meaningful, rare state playoff runs.
10. Canisius boys volleyball. The Crusaders stumbled to rival St. Joe’s during the season, but stormed through their competition after that, including a 13th straight Monsignor Martin title.
See which other teams (more than 40) made the high honor roll and the honor roll at the Prep Talk blog at buffalonews.com.
PrepTalkTV Weekly tonight
Lauren Mariacher and I host PrepTalkTV Weekly tonight, and Clarence girls swimming coach Joe Zwierzchowski and Rommel will be among our guests. We’ll again have a review of last week and a look ahead to this weekend’s action at 9 p.m. at buffalonews.com.
State championship pages
More Clarence girls swimming: The Red Devils are next up on the state championship page parade. Their state title page will appear Monday.