Akron Tigers (6-3)
Coach: Mike Dean, fourth season
Home field: No name
Program founded: Unknown
Outlook: Five returning starters on offense and seven on defense look to improve on back-to-back 6-3 seasons. The Tigers will build around Chauncey Hill (WR/DB), Brendan Weierheiser (QB/LB) and Larson Sundown (WR/DB). Weierheiser passed for 686 yards, rushed for 405 yards and scored nine TDs a year ago. The team boasts plenty of athleticism as Sundown and Hill were All-WNY in lacrosse in the spring. Other go-to players will be DB Aaron Siska and WRs Ethan Pequeen and Preston Kelkenberg.
Sept. 6 at JFK, 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 12 vs. Silver Creek/Forestville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 at Wilson, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 at Lackawanna, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 vs. Maryvale, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 10 vs. Cleveland Hill, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 vs. Gowanda, 7 p.m.
Cleveland Hill Eagles (11-1)
Coach: Glen Graham, 11th season
Home field: Carl J. Kuras Field
Program founded: 1953
Outlook: A state final four team a year ago, the Eagles won their first 11 games last season before losing to Chenango Valley in the Far West Regionals. Junior RB/SS Grayson Taylor will be the featured back with his 4.58 speed. Graham said he’s come into camp in shape and he has a nice line in front of him, including returning two-way starter Keyshawn Crawford (6-1, 305). Two young linemen who really helped the Eagles during last season’s playoff push were sophomore Matt Eldridge and junior Andy Ransburg. “We’re hoping to move some defensive line in front of Grayson,” said Graham. Talented FB/LB Jermaine Hairston is looking to have a breakout season.
Sept. 5 at Maryvale, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 vs. Wilson, 2 p.m.
Sept. 19 at Southwestern, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 at JFK, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 4 vs. Silver Creek/Forestville, 2 p.m.
Oct. 11 at Akron, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 vs. Lackawanna, 2 p.m.
JFK Bears (2-7)
Co-Coaches: Mark Ostempowski,
Jeff Sabatino, 9th seasons
Home field: No name
Program founded: 1931
Outlook: The Bears had 36 varsity prospects, 12-13 more than usual, for the first day of practice. The team is deeps at RB. The shifty Kenai Jordan will be the feature back. Second-leading rusher Lexus Pollard stays at FB. Shawn McPhail, who can also be used at RB, moves to SE. Tyler Bethin took over at QB in Week 3 last year. “He’s got a big arm, he’s learning the game and we’re waiting to see him progress,” said Sabatino. RB/FB Matt Lancalaca will also start on defense at LB. The Cleveland Hill game moves to Week 4 from Week 7.
Sept. 6 vs. Akron, 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 12 at Tonawanda, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 at Silver Creek/Forestville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 vs. Cleveland Hill, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 3 at Lackawanna, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 vs. Falconer/CV, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 17 at Wilson, 7 p.m.
Lackawanna Steelers (5-4)
Coach: Adam Tardif, fourth season
Home field: Veterans Stadium
Program founded: 1925
Outlook: The Steelers lack experience and numbers with 24 on the varsity, but Tardif said the players he has are focused with good attitudes. WR/DB is a definite strength with Damone Sylvers, Quinton Robinson, Alazar Amos and Ritchie Cruzado. Mike Hall is proving to be a solid DE/TE. Marquez Lofton, only a sophomore, made the most of his call-up last year. Aseel Albaneh is a returning two-way lineman. RB/LB Jamal Cooley has been a nice surprise at camp and is emerging as a vocal leader. Junior Manny Ramirez, up from the JV, looks like he’s nailed down the QB/DB positions.
Sept. 5 vs. Wilson, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 vs. Salamanca, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 at Cheektowaga, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 vs. Akron, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 vs. JFK, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 at Silver Creek/Forestville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 at Cleveland Hill, 2 p.m.
Silver Creek Black Knights (1-7)
Coach: Sean Helmer, ninth season
Home field: No name
Program founded: circa 1928.
Outlook: The last of the Williams brothers, Sherman, looks to make his mark at FB/LB. “He’s looked up to all his older brothers; he’s a great kid,” said Helmer. “I wish there were more of them.” TB/FS Kraig Gilbert (4.6 speed) will be on a mission after an injury limited him to three games last season. Mike Priest and Dylan Robinson were all-league lineman a year ago. HB Lucas Hallick is back after earning a starting spot last year as a sophomore.
Sept. 5 vs. Allegany-Limestone, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 at Akron, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 vs. JFK, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 at Wilson, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 at Cleveland Hill, 2 p.m.
Oct. 10 vs. Lackawanna, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 at Cattaraugus/Little Valley, 7 p.m.
Wilson Lakemen (0-9)
Coach: Bill Atlas, eighth season
Home field: Hutchison Field
Program founded: 1946
Outlook: Sophomore QB Justin Daul makes the jump after being the modified starter last year. Junior RB Nick Thuman will get additional carries this year. Hunter Howland moves from WR to RB. Jacob Rice is a returning LB. The Lakemen benefited from a two-team camp with Newfane in the spring. This is the second season Wilson will not have a JV program. Instead it will field a varsity for grades 10-11-12 and a modifed for 7-8-9.
Sept. 5 at Lackawanna, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 at Cleveland Hill, 2 p.m.
Sept. 19 vs. Akron, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 vs. Silver Creek/Forestville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 at Newfane, 2 p.m.
Oct. 11 at Barker/Roy-Hart, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 17 vs. JFK, 7 p.m.