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How the News would have voted: Preseason poll

No games yet? No problem. The News poll doesn't start until after Week One, but here's how we'd vote right now if we had to.

(Here's a look at last year's final polls and how The News voted in them).

Large schools

1. Orchard Park [last year's final poll: 1] -- Quakers are talking state title, and why not? They're loaded with the usual big bodies along with a top QB and the Connolly Cup winner. Section V had some powers move down the A, and defending state champ West Genesee has apparently graduated its entire team as well as the bus drivers. Haven't had a Section VI AA team like this to talk about since Jamestown's heyday. 

2. St. Francis [2] - The Red Raiders have their usual tough schedule, including their usual game with defending state Class A champion Aquinas, which will again be the only barometer we can use to compare and contrast teams. (Of course, in case anyone forgot: that's because Section VI teams largely don't play Monsignor Martin teams, which simply stifles this sport in Western New York).

3. Sweet Home [3] - Like the two teams above, they're loaded with returning talent. Their loss to Aquinas in the regionals was much worse than Frannies' last year, which ultimately decided our No. 2 and No. 3 slots. And it'll likely be the same this year.   

4. Frontier [8] - Class AA South is probably the best division in Section VI. The Falcons have key cogs back from a team that went 7-3 with losses to OP, Lancaster and Clarence -- by a combined 17 points -- and finished with a springboard-to-08 by winning the AA consolation bowl.

5. Iroquois [5] - Brandon Murie and Co. were thisveryclose to beating Cheektowaga and Sweet Home in last year's playoffs.

6. North Tonawanda (6-3) [9] - A bounce-back for the Lumberjacks, who don't have far to bounce back -- Jacks made the playoffs despite a pair very un-NT-like losses in their first two games.

For the second straight year, we want to make special mention and thank NT coach Eric Jantzi for scheduling a Monsignor Martin school (St. Joe's). There it is: proof that not all of Section VI is backwards-thinking.

7. Lancaster [7] - Just being in the tough AA South earns you major credit and you would think the Section VI AA runner-up would be in the mix again. Then again, a 0-2 start (at Lockport, vs. Frontier) could happen, too.

8. Cheektowaga [4] - In a year where lots of superstars return, we think the loss of gutsy QB Adam Piscatello will take some getting used to.

9. Canisius [NR] - They have guys signing with Division I schools, players transferring in, some top-notch opponents and a new turf field. Could be poised for a big year. But they still got blanked by St. Francis in last year's final and lost two impact Justins (Volk and Young). There's a reason there's an "NR" next to its name.

10. McKinley [6] - You don't win 30 straight games and not get a vote in a poll. Even if you've lost a lot of players and coaching, Riverside is coming after you and Grand Island has a great team coming back.

Small schools

1. Cardinal O'Hara [1] - This wasn't nearly as easy as the large-school No. 1 pick. It could have been any one of five teams, but we'll stick with last year's winners. O'Hara had a lot more players than two (co-players of the year Reggie Garner and Jackie Feggans) flying around the field nearly winning at Steubenville last year, and senior QB Angelo Sciandra Jr. can throw the ball.

2. East Aurora [3] - Speaking of QBs who can throw. Don't worry about Shane Biggs' graduation. Drosendahl's arm will find new friends.

3. Albion [NR] - From "others receiving votes" to No. 3 -- that will happen when a perennial power moves down from Class A to B and you're playing the final season for a local legend of a coach.

4. Southwestern [5] - Small-school superpower moves to Class C. Like we said last year: baaaaaaaaad news for Class C.

5. Cleveland Hill [6] - One of the most exciting tandems in WNY makes the Golden Eagles a team to watch. We might be putting them too high since last year, Class C teams didn't really represent in nonleague games.

6. Maryvale [NR] - Like Albion, another erstwhile large-school comes poaching. Flyers might poach a few spots after Week One: Friday night it hosts Cleve Hill.

7. Depew [2] - The Wildcats were a very, very special team last season, and that just doesn't happen every year. And hey, where'd all these large schools come from? We have to play Lew-Port, too?

8. Randolph [7] - The strong, tough Cardinals might be a Class B team in a Class D team's body.

9. Maple Grove [8] - Chris Secky has already proved he can whip the basketball around, and he's got two other QBs in the family (Randall and Tom).

10. Fredonia [4] - Yes, that's a No. 4 at the end of last year, in which they only lost to Depew and East Aurora, and Kenny Betts returns.

The games start Friday and Saturday, the first polls will be printed in the first Scholastic Spotlight of the school year next Tuesday, Sept. 9.

---Keith McShea

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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.

@KeithMcSheaBN | kmcshea@buffnews.com

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