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2019 Class C South Football Preview

Photo courtesy of RonSzot

Head Coach: Tom Callen

2018 record and finish: 2-6, missed Class C playoffs

Number of returning starters: 6 Offense/6 Defense

Key Returnees: Connor Walsh, John Giardini, Griffen Klice, Ben Giardini, Logan Klice, Thomas Callen, Kyle Herbert, Jayden Gustafson  

Key Losses: Patrick Walsh, Tanner Hulse

The Gators’ run of three-straight postseason appearances came to an end last season. That was in large part due to an injury to QB Thomas Callen in the first game of the year. Allegany-Limestone’s two wins last season came in the final three games with Callen back under center. His father, Tom Callen, takes over as head coach this season. Also back are WR Ben Giardini, RB Logan Klice and lineman Connor Walsh. It will be a tough road for the Gators to get back to the playoffs in 2019 but they are healthy out of the gate.

Head Coach: Bryan Bongiovanni

2018 record and finish: 4-4, fell in Class C quarterfinals

Number of returning starters: 6

Key Returnees: Ryan Jafarijan, Caleb Chelton, Zach Martin, Ryan Baribeau, Brendon Rowe, Nick Putcher

Key Losses: Zach Fischer, Kyler Majka, Trey Saurland

First-year head coach Bryan Bongiovanni has a tall task ahead of him this season. He has to bring together players from three different school districts that haven’t played together before, all while taking over for future Hall of Fame coach Curt Fischer. So far, Bongiovanni has been impressed with his team’s offseason participation. Zach Martin will look to replace Kyler Majka at QB. WR Zach Fischer graduated. In the backfield will be seniors Ryan Jafarijan and Caleb Chelton. If these players come together, the Thunderbirds can compete for a spot in the postseason.

Head Coach: Joel Sopak 

2018 record and finish: 4-4, fell in first round of Class C Playoffs

Number of returning starters: 6 Offense/6 Defense

Key Returnees: Chase Johnson, Collin Mower, Mack Mikula, John Kozlowski, Addison Dove, Brandon Rodriguez

Key Losses: Robbie Penhollow, Connor Crabtree, Jordan Dustin and Dillon Hokanson

Falconer High School has just installed a new turf and the Golden Cougars would love nothing more than to play a home playoff game on it this season. Cassadaga Valley/Falconer suffered two big losses as three-year starting QB Connor Crabtree and leading rusher Robbie Penhollow graduated. Noah Abram and Evan Phanco will split carries this season. Mack Mikula made a team third-best 50 tackles in 2018. It’s going to be difficult for the Golden Cougars to return to the postseason in 2019 with Crabtree and Penhollow gone.

Head Coach: Greg Sherlock

2018 record and finish: 8-1, fell in Class B semifinals

Number of returning starters: 6

Key Returnees: Jake Skinner, Alex Christie, Dalton Gardner, Dom Gullo, Yaniel Acevedo

Key Losses: Joell Colon, Trey Swartz, Gio Russo, Nate Shuart, Ka’Rim Levens

Fredonia was quietly one of the best teams in the area going undefeated until the end, losing to Pioneer in the semifinals. 6′ 4″, 230-pound TE/LB Jake Skinner (16 catches, 428 yards, six touchdowns) has been the talk of the offseason after his highlight reel caught the eye of Alabama (SEC) who invited the player for a visit. The Hillbillies lose QB Trey Swartz to graduation. Sophomore Nick Whittfield is expected to take over under center. Dalton Gardner and Dom Gullo will look to replace the production of Joell Colon in the backfield. Moving down from Class B, the Hillbillies are one of the favorites to win the division.  

Head Coach: Sean Gabel

2018 record and finish: 5-3, fell in Class C quarterfinals

Number of returning starters: 3

Key Returnees: Chelton Bellinger,  Zach Phillips, Ethan Fort, Ryane Nephew, Evert Golden

Key Losses: Damen Macleod, Caleb Mahoney

Gowanda/Pine Valley moves over to the South division after spending last season in Class C North. The Panthers started the season 2-0 before losing four of their last five games. They did, however, make it into the playoffs. They only return three starters in 2019. Gowanda/Pine Valley will look for leadership from Chelton Bellinger and Ethan Fort.

Head Coach: Josh Brooks

2018 record and finish: 3-6, fell in Class C Funke Bowl Championship game 

Number of returning starters: 9 Offense/10 Defense 

Key Returnees: Jayden Lassiter, Roland Thomson, Mike Stillman, Dalton Tobola, Jared Zenner, Julian Morales, Austin Babb, Hunter Saltsman, Levi Ganoung 

Key Losses: Matt Reisman 

The Portville Panthers were a very young team last season, but took their lumps and reached the Class C Chuck Funke Bowl. This year the Panthers will be one of the more experienced teams in Class C, if not all of Section VI. QB Mike Stillman returns for his senior season. He’ll be joined in the backfield by junior RB/LB Jayden Lassiter and senior LB/RB/TE Roland Thompson.  Senior Austin Babb and junior Jared Zenner will lead the line. Reaching the postseason should be the expectation for the Panthers.

Head Coach: Jehuu Caulcrick

2018 record and finish: 9-1, fell in Section VI Class C Championship game

Number of returning starters: 7 Offense/9 Defense

Key Returnees: Cooper Pannes, Zishaun Munir, Drew Wigren, Chris Quinn, Garrett Swan

Key Losses: Cole Snyder, Faizan Munir, Alex Card, Nick Everson, Mayson Mathews

Normally after losing a Division I quarterback and another Connolly Cup finalist, a team is expected to drop to the middle of the pack. However, Southwestern might not take as big a step back as one would think. Sophomore Aiden Kennedy will have big shoes to fill at quarterback with Cole Snyder now playing at Rutgers. WR/K/DB Alex Card is also gone, he’ll be catching passes at Saint Anselm College this fall. Zishaun Munir will be splitting carries with Tywon Wright, a transfer from Dunkirk. Reaching New Era Field for a fourth year in a row will be tough, but is doable for the Trojans in 2019.

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