Bishop Timon- St. Jude Tigers (6-5)
Coach: Charlie Comerford, third season
Home field: Tifft Farms
Program founded: 1948
Outlook: Last year’s Monsignor Martin Association finalists have one of the best linemen in the league with junior OL/DL Ryan Byrne. A 6-1, 265-pounder, he was second team All-WNY and first team All-Catholic on the DL. Comerford said he leads by example, but can also be vocal and is very coachable. In last year’s playoffs, returning LB Nick Conklin had 11 tackles against St. Joe’s in the semifinals and 11 against Canisius in the final. Senior RB/DB Adam DiMillo is starting this season like he did last – injured. He missed the first four games of last season with an arm injury. He still managed to earn second team, Al-WNY rushing for 1,000 yards in seven games. He’ll miss the first four games this year after injuring his arm during the last lacrosse tournament of the summer in early August. Comerford said he hopes to get DiMillo back in time for the Tigers’ league games and playoffs. DiMillo has verbally committed to Maryland for lacrosse. Junior Tyree Cobel is a 6-4, 330 transfer from Maritime Charter. He’s new to football, but Comerford said he’s proved a quick study and his role should expand as the season goes on. Senior WR/DB Brandon Donohue used his 4.5 speed to gather five interceptions last year. Taking the snaps will be junior Derick Simpson, who started at CB last year, but did play QB for three games last year when there was an injury. The Tigers will be tested early as they open the season hosting defending Section V Class AA champion Aquinas.
Sept. 6 V-Aquinas, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 at Glen Oak (Ohio), 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 at St. Mary’s, 1 p.m.
Sept. 27 Riverside, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 Cardinal O’Hara, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 at Canisius, 1 p.m.
Oct. 18 Williamsville South, 7 p.m.
Oct. 26 at St. Joe’s, 1 p.m.
Nov. 1 St. Francis, 7 p.m.
Canisius Crusaders (11-0)
Coach: Rich Robbins, third season
Home field: Stransky Complex
Program founded: circa 1900
Outlook: Deep and talented, the Crusaders are New York State’s preseason No. 1 ranked team in Class AA. They are led by RB Qadree Ollison, the Buffalo News co-Player of the Year last season. Last season he broke the school record for most rushing yards in a season (1,876), yards in a game (344), TDs in a season (26) and most points (156). He will make his verbal commitment on Monday, having narrowed his choices to Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse and Wisconsin. WR/LB Brad Zaffram, a first-team All-Western New York selection as a sophomore, transferred in from Sweet Home. The transfer of brothers Terius and TJ Wheatley from Michigan was easily high school football’s offseason story of the year. TJ, a 6-6, 245 junior TE/DE, already has a scholarship offer from two-time defending national champion Alabama. The Canisius lineup also expects huge seasons from senior WR/DB Ryan Richards, senior LB Mike Sharpe and junior DB/WR Josh Huffman.
Sept. 6 at V-McQuaid, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 13 at V-Aquinas, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 21 Walsh Jesuit (Ohio), 2 p.m.
Sept. 27 at St. Francis, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 St. Mary’s, 2 p.m.
Oct. 12 Timon-St. Jude, 2 p.m.
Oct. 18 at Cardinal Mooney (Ohio), 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 26 at Cardinal O’Hara, 1 p.m.
Nov. 2 St. Joe’s, 1 p.m.
Cardinal O’Hara Hawks (2-8)
Coach: Angelo Sciandra, 14th season
Home field: No name
Program founded: 1963
Outlook: Not only do the Hawks return their entire offensive line, all five are juniors. All have gotten stronger in the offseason and have a better understanding of their blocking responsibilities. Up front the Hawks will be counting on tackle Tyler Jansen, tackle Kris Croom, guard Mike Spagna, guard Gino Lattuca and center Darnell Hamilton. O’Hara graduated Anthony DiFrancesco, its QB for the past three seasons, but junior Donel Cathcart should make the transition. Cathcart got some snaps last year when DiFrancesco was forced to the sidelines with a knee injury.
Sept. 7 at Nichols, noon
Sept. 21 at St. Joe’s, 2:30 p.m.
Sept. 28 at Eden, 2 p.m.
Oct. 4 Timon-St. Jude at Tifft, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 at St. Francis, 1 p.m.
Oct. 18 at South Park, 7 p.m.
Oct. 26 Canisius, 2 p.m.
Nov. 2 St. Mary’s, 2 p.m.
St. Francis Red Raiders (3-8)
Coach: Jerry Smith, 25th season
Home field: Fr. Rufinus Complex
Program founded: 1947
Outlook: The Raiders feel fortunate to be returning 6-5 senior QB Jake Dolegala, who threw for 619 yards in eight games a year ago. Smith said he’s smart, has a quick release and can throw the ball a mile. The only starter back on the O-line is senior Ryan Zulawski (6-2, 227). Guard Brian Pacholec, up from the JV, is proving to be hard-nosed. “That’s going to be the determining factor this year is the offensive line and how they play,” said Smith. Senior WR/DB/P/K Elliot Buccieri is also a special teams ace. Last year he returned 10 punts and 22 kickoffs. Smith said he runs north and south and is fearless. Senior NG Adam Valenti had 59 tackles, 12 for loss, with four forced fumbles. The backfield returns sophomore Tyron Lawson and senior Brendon Misterman, who missed all of last season with knee issues. Returning safety Mike Miller had 55 tackles last year. The Red Raiders host Canisius and St. Joe’s in back-to-back weeks. It’s Smith’s 25th year on the St. Francis sideline.
Sept. 7 at Holy Trinity (L.I.), 1 p.m.
Sept. 13 V-Edison Tech, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 at Cathedral Prep (Pa.), 7 p.m
Sept. 27 Canisius, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 St. Joe’s, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 at Cardinal O’Hara, 2 p.m.
Oct. 18 at V-Aquinas ,7 p.m.
Oct. 25 St. Mary’s, 7 p.m.
Nov. 1 at Timon-St. Jude, 7 p.m
St. Joe’s Marauders (8-3)
Coach: Dennis Gilbert, fourth season
Home field: Robert T. Scott Complex
Program founded: 1898
Outlook: Catch them if you can. The Marauders have 10 players who run 4.7 or faster. “This is the fastest we’ve ever been. They say speed kills, we’re going to find out,” said Gilbert. Only two All-WNY picks on defense return and the Marauders’ Rod Payne is one of them. Payne made the team as a LB after recording 108 tackles and he rushed for 841 yards and 11 TDs. Payne, 5-10, 188 pounds, lost 14 pounds and cut 2/10th off his 40 time. “He’s leaner, stronger and almost twice as strong. His numbers went through the roof,” said Gilbert. Payne is weighing an offer from Colgate. All-Catholic senior WR Nigel Davis trained with Payne this offseason and he’s down 15 pounds to 180. “He’s electric in practice, daily,” said Gilbert. Davis is 100 percent health-wise after being slowed last year with a groin issue. Second team All-Catholic Tyler Hill returns to the slot and TE positions. The lone returning starter on the line is guard Robert Costanzo. But he’s got company because St. Joe’s used a seven-man rotation last year. Austin Greenwood, a 6-6, 260 sophomore will start on the line. He’s looking for size 18 spikes.
Anthony Castellani, a team captain, returns at LB.
Sept. 7 St. Anthony’s (L.I.), 1 p.m.
Sept. 14 at Clarence, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 Cardinal O’Hara, 2:30 p.m.
Sept. 28 V-Aquinas, 1 p.m.
Oct. 4 at St. Francis, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 at Cathedral Prep (Pa.), 7
Oct. 19 at St. Mary, 1 p.m.
Oct. 26 Timon-St. Jude, 1 p.m.
Nov. 2 at Canisius, 1 p.m.
St. Mary’s Lancers (5-4)
Coach: Dave Hersey, fourth season
Home field: Fr. Columban Brady Field
Program founded: 1941
Outlook: Senior RB Nick Vallone was third team All-NYS a year ago. Hersey said Vallone added 10 pounds through workouts and he’s just as fast. “He’s a pretty durable back, going against those teams we go against, he needed to put on another 10 pounds. He’s ready to go.” Vallone will have an experienced line to follow with four starters back: center Dahlen Jones, guard Paul Battaglia, guard Trevor Wrona and tackle Justin Green, who’s 6-3, 330. Senior Dione Strong has started at WR the past 2ø years. Anthony Stitt will start at FB and returns to the defensive backfield for a second year. Junior QB Justin Hersey is looking for another productive season after throwing for seven TDs and adding four more on the ground. Tony Robinson is a talented sophomore who will see some time at FB and will play LB. He started the last three games in 2012 and had an INT vs. St. Joe’s. Senior LB/TE Nate Keith is ready to go both ways. He was impressive in the scrimmage against Maryvale, Lake Shore and JFK.
Sept. 6 at Smethport (Pa.), 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 East, 1 p.m.
Sept. 21 Timon-St. Jude 1 p.m.
Sept. 28 BYE
Oct. 5 at Canisius, 2 p.m.
Oct. 11 Hutch-Tech at All High, 7:30
Oct. 19 St. Joe’s, 1 p.m.
Oct. 25 at St. Francis, 7 p.m.
Nov. 2 at Cardinal O’Hara, 2 p.m.
INDEPENDENT: Nichols Vikings (6-3)
Coach: Colin Brinson, sixth season
Home field: Strauss Truscott
Program founded: 1895
Outlook: The Vikings have just three senior starters on their 20-man roster, but Brinson is confident they will be competitive. Junior Ken Williams is a hard-nosed 200-pound LB who has led the team in tackles the past two years. Junior Steve Glinski gets his first shot at starting quarterback after starting the past two years at DB. He was in the backfield sparingly last year at HB, but this year he’s shown promise at QB. Senior RB/LB Mike Geiger is a three-year varsity player. Players back on the line are senior Andy Welchoff, junior Steve Foley and junior Ethan Carrow. Jordan Tyson brings senior leadership to his SE/DB spots. “I think we have a lot of good skill position players, our line has to come through and we have to have players in great shape because our number aren’t what you like,” said Brinson. “There have been some nice surprises, kids coming out as juniors. Hopefully, we’ll have something to say about them as the season goes along. They’re not game-tested.” The Vikings don’t have enough players for a JV team, but they do offer a modified A team for grades 7-8-9.
Sept. 7 Cardinal O’Hara, noon
Sept. 13 at Maple Grove, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 at Portville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 Westfield, noon
Oct. 5 V-Charles Finney, 2 p.m.
Oct. 19 Ellicottville, 1 p.m.