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Section VI Football Championship preview

The final weekend of the 2021 Western New York spring high school football season, officially known as 2020 Fall II, is right around the corner, with five Section VI Championship games scheduled to be played over the two-day postseason finale, taking place on Friday, May 14, and Saturday, May 15.

Four schools will be looking to repeat as sectional champions, and three of the five championship games – AA, A, and C – will feature matchups between undefeated teams.

The sectional championship contests will, obviously, have a bit of a different feel to them this spring than in past years, not only because they’re being played in May as opposed to October, but also because the games will not take place at Highmark Stadium, the newly named home of the Buffalo Bills. This spring, the higher-seeded team in each sectional final will host its league’s championship game.

Class AA

(1) Lancaster vs. (2) Orchard Park

Lancaster (5-0) will look to capture its fifth consecutive Section VI Championship Friday night against, arguably, its biggest league rival in Orchard Park (6-0). For the last few weeks, it seemed like the Legends and Quakers were on a collision course to meet for the Class AA title, and Friday night at Lancaster the undefeated foes are set to finally cross paths.

The Quakers shutout Clarence, 17-0, last Friday in Orchard Park to punch their ticket to the sectional finals. Orchard Park’s defense hasn’t let up more than 13 points in a single game this season and has allowed just 28 over its six contests. However, the Legends offense will likely be the best the Quakers have seen all year, and the Quakers may need to put up more than 17 on the scoreboard to dethrone the four-time defending league champions.

Friday night’s game will be the Legends’ first in two weeks. Lancaster’s semifinal matchup last Friday with Bennett was canceled due to a COVID-related issue with the Tigers. In each of Lancaster’s five regular season games, the offense scored at least 34 points, including a season-high of 51 against Williamsville North in Week 3. The Legends’ defensive unit is no slouch either, as the group held three teams to single digit point totals in the regular season. However, Frontier scored 20 points in the regular season finale against Lancaster, the most points given up by the Legends this spring.

One may wonder if Lancaster will show any rust early on, due to being off from game action for an extra week. It could take a slow start from the Legends (and a hot start from the Quakers) for Orchard Park to put an end to the top-seed’s stranglehold on the AA division in Western New York. Both teams boast strong units on both sides of the ball, and a victory may come down to which group steps up, or slips up, first.

Opening kickoff at Lancaster is scheduled for 7pm on Friday night.

Class A

(A1 No. 1) Jamestown vs. (A2 No. 1) South Park

Similar to the AA final, the Class A Championship between the Jamestown Red Raiders (6-0) and the South Park Sparks (5-0) is a highly anticipated showdown between undefeated teams. However, unlike Lancaster, South Park, the 2019 Section VI Class A Champions, will have to win on the road in order to successfully defend their league title.

The Red Raiders completely ran roughshod over the A1 division this spring, averaging nearly 45 points per game in the regular season (44.8), while only allowing an average of 7.6 points against per game. In the semifinals last Friday, Jamestown hung a season-high 57 points on previously undefeated Williamsville South, and only allowed the Billies to score 14 (the most any team has gotten against Jamestown this year).

South Park survived and advanced to the sectional finals by outlasting Grand Island last Friday, 20-19. The Vikings attempted to take the lead with a two-point conversion after cutting their deficit to one thanks to a touchdown with 40 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but failed to convert after the fake extra point/pass was dropped in the end zone.

Despite the narrow victory over Grand Island, this South Park team has the speed, athleticism, and explosiveness to matchup up with the high-tempo Red Raider offense. Friday night’s matchup could very well be a track meet, with names such as Jamestown’s Jaylen Butera, Elijah Rojas, and Demarri Jones, along with South Park’s Keith Jackson, Parrell Fulgham, and Marqwan Fluitt having the potential to appear on the score sheet multiple times.

While South Park did travel to Amherst for its matchup with the Tigers back on April 24, the game was canceled due to COVID; so, the Sparks haven’t actually played a road game since April 8, a 38-14 win over North Tonawanda. Having to take a long, multi-hour bus ride down to Jamestown as opposed to the Bills’ home stadium in Orchard Park certainly adds to the deck that’s already stacked against South Park. But, again, if there’s one team that has the ability to keep up with Jamestown, it’s the Sparks.

Opening kickoff at Jamestown is scheduled for 7pm on Friday night.

Class B

(B2 No. 1) WNYMCS/HS vs. (B1 No. 1) Iroquois

If one were to look at just in-league records, the Class B Championship between the WNYMCS/HS (Maritime/Health Sciences) Falcons (3-1) and Iroquois Chiefs (4-0) is another matchup between undefeated teams. The game also features another 2019 sectional champion, Maritime/Health Sciences, looking to defend its title.

Maritime/Health Sciences does have a blemish on its record this season, a 35-6 loss on the road to St. Francis, but within Class B, the Falcons have been utterly dominant. Due to multiple cancelations that stemmed from COVID, the Falcons only played three league games in the regular season. But, in those three games, Maritime/Health Sciences out-scored its opponents 100-0. Similar problems followed the Falcons into the playoffs, as Maritime/Health Sciences’ semifinal matchup with West Seneca East last Friday was canceled due to COVID issues within the Trojans’ program. While it did give the Falcons a free pass to the sectional finals, last week was the third in a row where Maritime/Health Sciences didn’t play. The Falcons most recent game, a 20-0 victory over Lake Shore, took place back on Friday, April 23, a little more than three weeks prior to the upcoming clash with Iroquois.

As for the Chiefs, they’ve dealt with their fair share of COVID pauses and cancelations as well. Before notching a home win over Olean in the semifinals last Friday, 46-15, Iroquois went two weeks without playing. Along with having the highly anticipated regular season finale against Pioneer canceled, Iroquois never got to play its season opener against Albion either. In the games they have played though, the Chiefs won each with relative ease. Iroquois posted back-to-back shutouts against West Seneca East (12-0) and Cheektowaga (31-0) to start the season, and then put 68 points on the scoreboard in a road victory over Lewiston Porter. Even in last week’s playoff game with Olean, Iroquois coasted, winning by 31 points (46-15).

This game could very well come to which defense makes a big play first. It’s hard to picture Iroquois getting shutout, despite Maritime/Health Sciences defense playing as well as it has. And as great as the Chiefs defense has played, it’s going to take a great game plan, and execution of said plan, to slow down this Falcons offense.

Opening kickoff at the Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion is scheduled for 2pm Saturday afternoon. It will be the first home game of the season for Maritime/Health Sciences.

Class C

(2) Medina vs. (4) Southwestern

In another matchup of undefeated squads, Southwestern (5-0) faces off against Medina (5-0), on the road, looking to defend its 2019 Section VI Class C title. While the Trojans are the undefeated, defending champs, they could also very well be considered the underdog heading into Friday night, as the Mustangs have just cruised through the spring so far this year.

Media blew out Eden/North Collins in the semifinal round last Friday, winning 54-6 at home. The lopsided victory over the Raiders looked a lot similar, score-wise, to the rest of the Mustangs’ wins this season. Medina has scored at least 50 points twice, along with a 48-point performance against Cleveland Hill, and has put up at least 32 points in every game. On defense, the Mustangs have been even more impressive, allowing just 3.8 points against per game. In its five games, Medina has shut two teams out, allowed six points twice, and seven points once. In last week’s win over Eden, the Mustangs scored 32 points in the first quarter alone, and put up 47 in the first half.

Southwestern hasn’t been shy about blowing teams out this season, either. The Trojans put up 63 points earlier this season in a 57-point win over Chautauqua Lake, and have out-scored their opponents 202-52. A good portion of those points against came in last week’s semifinal contest against CSP (Clymer/Sherman/Panama), a hard-fought, 24-21 victory for Southwestern over the reigning, back-to-back Class D State Champions.

Both teams have been great on both sides of the ball all season, and the Class C title game has the potential to be as entertaining as any of the other four on the championship slate. Media has seemingly been the strongest team in Class C this spring, but Southwestern is coming off a huge, confidence-boosting win over CSP. Also, the Trojans may be playing with a chip on their shoulder, seeing that while Southwestern is the undefeated, defending sectional champion, they have to go on the road to defend their crown, and are considered by some as the underdog.

Opening kickoff at Medina is scheduled for 7pm on Friday night.

Class D

(1) Franklinville/Ellicottville vs. (3) Salamanca

With CSP up in Class C this season, the Class D crown in Section VI will belong to a program that’s not the Wolfpack’s for the first time since 2017. Top seed Franklinville/Ellicottville (6-1), last season’s sectional runner up, will play host to No. 3 seed Salamanca Friday night in the title game.

The Titans will be looking to win the program’s first sectional championship since 2015, and get to play on their home field. Salamanca last won a sectional title back in 2001, in Class C, its third over a four-year stretch. If the Warriors want to get back on top of Section VI for the first time in 20 years, they’ll have to win a playoff game on the road for a second straight week.

The Class D Sectional Championship will be the second meeting this spring between the Titans and Warriors. Franklinville/Ellicottville went on the road to Salamanca back on April 9 and came away with a 7-0 victory. The Warriors have been the only team in Class D to keep things close with Franklinville/Ellicottville. In the four regular season league games following the win over Salamanca, the Titans out-scored their opponents 139-25, shut two teams out, and dropped 50 points on the road against Silver Creek/Forestville. Franklinville/Ellicottville defeated Randolph in the semifinal round last week, 34-8.

Since the Week 2 loss to Franklinville/Ellicottville, Salamanca has played solid football. The Warriors defeated St. Mary’s from Monsignor Martin, 16-6, in Week 3, and bested Randolph in the regular season finale, 25-20. Salamanca did lose at Portville back on April 23, and rather considerably, by a 54-14 score. But, the Warriors avenged that loss last week in the semifinals, and won at Portville, 6-0, in a game that was greatly affected by poor weather conditions.

The Class D Sectional Championship has all the makings for a great contest. Franklinville/Ellicottville has been the best team in the league all year and gets to play at home, a place where they haven’t lost this season. However, Salamanca has shown it can win a playoff game on the road, and beat a team that bested them in the regular season.

Opening kickoff at Franklinville/Ellicottville is scheduled for 6:30pm on Friday night.

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