Every week of the football season, nine voters rate Western New York's best teams from 1 to 10 in the large and small school polls (published in the Sidelines of each Tuesday's Scholastic Spotlight). The News has one vote in each poll.
Note -- this week marks the penultimate poll. These are the last rankings until the season is over -- the final rankings will be part of our All-Western New York issue in December.
With that in mind -- and especially after my ballot hardly changed at all -- we'll look at what possible movement there could be between now and then.
1. Orchard Park (10-0) [last week: 1] - If they surpass what they did last year and advance to the state final, it would seem they'd have this spot sewn up. ...
2. Sweet Home (10-0)  - However, not so fast my friends. A Sweet Home win over Aquinas -- not only a defending champion but regarded by two prominent national polls (ESPNRise and Yahoo!Rivals) as the best team in the state -- would be huge. The top two spots in this poll are dependent upon how far the current No. 1 and No. 2 go ... and it's possible they could bring a third team into the equation ...
3. Canisius (6-3)  - This is a long shot (especially since it looks like other pollsters don't have the Crusaders as high as I do), but the Aquinas measuring stick is there, as it has in previous years. Canisius had a close call with Aquinas, so if the Little Irish beat Sweet Home and it's not close, the argument could be made that the Crusaders move up. If OP also should get upended, the Crusaders could campaign for this poll's Oval Office. This whole scenario, of course, rests on Canisius beating St. Francis on Friday night.
4. North Tonawanda (9-1)  - Same spot I had them last week. They'd move up my chart if St. Francis beats Canisius.
5. Lancaster (7-2)  - Why they're here: Loss at OP, loss in playoffs at NT. Clear No. 2 in AA South, clear No. 3 in AA (ahead of Kenmore West).
6. Kenmore West (6-3)  - Why they're here: Two losses to OP, one loss at NT, and the playoff win over Jamestown earns it some street cred in AA South's neighborhood. But not on other pollsters' ballots, it appears.
7. Iroquois (8-2)  - Why they're here: Loss at home to Clarence in Week Eight, loss to Sweet Home at The Ralph. If they didn't lose to Clarence, they'd be No. 5 on this ballot.
8. Grand Island (7-2)  - Loss at home to Sweet Home, close loss in playoffs to Iroquois tucks them right behind the Chiefs.
9. St. Francis (3-6)  - Record against WNY: 3-1 with a 10-point loss to our No. 3 team. Very surprising second-half letdown to St. Joe's makes me want to penalize them, but I think they still have to be ahead of Riverside, for now, based on the Aquinas comparison (St. Francis played them much closer), and there's noone else worthy of the top 10.
10. Riverside (8-1)  - Almost moved them up this week. If the Frontiers charge to the Harvard Cup title, they certainly will. How far? They could crack the top five. Only loss was a big one, but came to a great team in Aquinas.
Second-and-five: Our next best are Frontier, Clarence, West Seneca East, Williamsville South, Grover Cleveland. If Grover (or Hutch-Tech or McKinley, for that matter) wins the Cup, they can crack the top 10 -- otherwise, the top 10 are the top 10, with final shuffling to come.
1. Lackawanna (10-0)  - We like the Class B champs as No. 1, the Class C champs as No. 2 and the Class D champs as No. 3. We think they are three outstanding teams, and we certainly thing a round-robin tournament of the three would be a lot of fun, but based on what we saw this past weekend, there's not enough evidence to get them out of alphabetical order. From here on in, the top three's placement will depend in large part on how far they go and how they do it.
2. Southwestern (10-0)  - See No. 1.
3. Maple Grove (10-0)  - See Nos. 1 and 2.
4. Fredonia (8-2)  - Why they're here: two losses to Lackawanna. No great shame there.
5. Alden (8-1)  - Why they're here: loss in playoffs to Fredonia.
6. Silver Creek (8-2)  - Why they're here: two losses to Southwestern.
7. Cleveland Hill (8-1)  - Why they're here: loss in playoffs to Silver Creek.
8. Clymer (9-1)  - Why they're here: one loss to Maple Grove. Tough to move them any higher this late since that D final was over so early.
9. Depew (6-3)  - Lost to Alden, Lancaster and in playoffs to Lackawanna.
10. Cardinal O'Hara (6-4)  - A fourth straight title would have them finish with a flourish, and would move them up at least a couple of spots.
And our second-and-5: East Aurora, Portville, Randolph, Maryvale, Allegany-Limestone.
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taggedHigh school football