Kraig Kurzanski figured his Williamsville South team would be in rebuilding mode with just one starter returning from a year ago. But instead of taking a step back, the Billies can clinch a divisional championship tonight at home.
Standing between South and the Class A Central crown is unbeaten McKinley (5-0). Williamsville South-McKinley highlights a busy weekend in high school football.
In Class AA, Frontier (4-1) plays at Lancaster (3-2) at 7:30 in a matchup of two teams that have secured playoff berths. In Class B, South Eden (2-2), battling for a berth, takes on Depew (4-1), ranked No. 7 in the area small school poll, at 7:30.
In huge rivalry game in Class A South at 7, West Seneca East (3-1) faces West Seneca West (0-5). In Class D Maple Grove/Chautauqua Lake (2-1) visits Ellicottville/West Valley (1-2).
The No. 10-ranked Billies (4-1) have wins over East (16-8), Williamsville North (32-6), Riverside (48-8) and Williamsville East (28-7), with their loss coming against Orchard Park (42-21).
“I think we’re a little bit advanced over where I thought we would be,” Kurzanski said. “We have 21 new starters from last year’s team and with so much turnover I didn’t think we’d be at this point to play for a league championship.”
The players who have made the most strides from a year ago are receivers Kevin Mason, Jr., the son of former Syracuse University and West Seneca quarterback Kevin Mason, and junior Kam Varner.
At 5-foot-7, 150-pounds, Mason isn’t blessed with his father’s size but he’s productive because of his speed. He played sparingly as a junior but Kurzanski said he worked hard in the weight room and blossomed into a playmaker.
During last week’s win over rival Williamsville East, Mason finished with 137 receiving yards, including a 79-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Sam Castronova, who was 20-for-40 for 303 yards and three TDs.
In the victory over North, Varner caught three touchdown passes and ran for another. Both Mason and Varner have more than 20 receptions.
“They’re big-play guys and they’ve been the biggest surprises for us this season,” Kurzanski said.
They’ll face an eighth-ranked McKinley team which blew out Riverside (40-0) and East (36-0) and had narrow victories over Williamsville North (14-12), Williamsville East (26-23) and Niagara Falls (12-6).
Also this weekend, No. 3 ranked St. Joe’s (4-1) plays tonight at Cathedral Prep in Erie, Pa. A first-place small school battle in Class B North has No. 3 Burgard (5-0) at No. 5 Cheektowaga (4-1) at 2 p.m. Saturday. Also at 2 Saturday in the Monsignor Martin Association, No. 2 Canisius (4-1) hosts Bishop Timon-St. Jude at the Stransky Complex.