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.
And this week:
1. Orchard Park (9-0) [last week: 1] - The beginning of the true judgement of the 2008 Quakers begins Friday night at 8:30 p.m., a place they were expected to be all along.
2. Sweet Home (9-0)  - Make it three shutouts in a row. This week, for us, the Panthers are an even clearer winner of the "Who's No. 2?" question.
3. Canisius (5-3)  - After owning the rivalry game on St. Joe's turf, Crusader Nation hasn't felt this good in a while.
4. North Tonawanda (9-0)  - In the three-horse race for No. 2, I like just think the other two horses are a little stronger, a little more well-rounded.
5. Lancaster (7-2)  - Live by the sword ... Last year, Redskins won at NT thanks in large part to turnovers. This year, three turnovers led to 21 of NT's points. Very good team with very good resume: loss at OP, close loss at NT.
6. Kenmore West (6-3)  - Played OP to a closer score than most expected -- they've done good by AA North these last few weeks. Another resume check: two losses at OP, one loss at NT.
7. Iroquois (8-1) [NR] - Chiefs have embraced the underdog role, which has to be quite scary for Sweet Home and its fans. Resume check: loss at home to Clarence in Week Eight has to keep them below AA toughies Lancaster and Kenmore West. Pollsters are totally forgetting about that loss -- arguably the worst loss by a team on this ballot. I'll forget about it if they win at The Ralph.
8. Grand Island (7-2)  - Out-big-played by Murie and the Chiefs.
9. St. Francis (2-6)  - Record against WNY: 2-1 with a 10-point loss to our No. 3 team. Won at St. Joe's by 29; NT beat Joe's at home by 32, Canisius won at Joe's by 24. Good to see people still write letters to the editor.
10. Riverside (8-1)  - Grover's comeback sets the stage for what could be a wonderful Thanksgiving Day game.
Second-and-five: Our next best are Frontier, Grover Cleveland, Clarence, West Seneca East, Williamsville South.
1. Lackawanna (9-0)  - Another tough test, another big win. A deserved unanimous No. 1.
2. Southwestern (9-0)  - Like OP, Trojans playing a game at The Ralph that they were expected to be in all season long.
3. Fredonia (8-1)  - Previous poll flashback: "These guys might be moving up next week." Sometimes I get one or two right.
4. Maple Grove (9-0)  - Ding dong, the Randolph witch is dead. Next up, the one at The Ralph? I moved them up one spot this week, but those Hillbillies (and a richly deep Class B) deserve respect. Note to Red Dragons flame-breathing fans who want them higher: for a Class D school, the path to the top of the poll goes through the Carrier Dome (and it helps if you're the only Section VI small school there).
5. Alden (8-1)  - Just a fabulous season for the Bulldogs.
6. Silver Creek (8-1)  - Great win on the road over Cleveland Hill. Can they win Round Two against Southwestern?
7. Cleveland Hill (8-1)  - Was this where they should have been all year? Certainly not -- this small school landscape was muddled from Day One. A tip of the hat to the power of C South.
8. Clymer (9-0) [NR] - Very impressive home shutout of Portville shows the Pirates are one of the big boys. Well, big little boys. You know what I mean.
9. Depew (6-3)  - Will the weeks to come show that a big loss at Lackawanna wasn't so bad? Resume check: lost Week One to Alden, Week Seven to Lancaster, Week Nine to Lackawanna.
10. Cardinal O'Hara (5-4) [NR] - Great second half, definitely deserve a spot the way they've distanced themselves from St. Mary's. I'd certainly take the Hawks against other contenders for this spot.
And our second-and-5: East Aurora, Portville, Randolph, Maryvale, Allegany-Limestone.
Don't like what you're reading? The comment space is below.
Also, visit here Wednesday for a live chat with yours truly -- it will be earlier than usual (3 p.m.) since I'll be out covering some of the many playoff events this week.
taggedHigh school football