Like many of you, I’ve been looking forward to the 2023 high school football season since we closed out 2022.
Once July hits and the Kensington Lions Club Senior All-Star Game kicks-off the excitement only increases. With that said, I wanted to reflect a little on last season and make some prognostications at the same time.
Last season we saw the Bennett Tigers claim the NYSPHSAA Class AA Championship at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY. It was a highlight moment for the Buffalo Public Schools but also for Section VI and Western New York as a whole.
This year, it looks as if Bennett has as good as any team in Class AA to win it all once again. It would be the programs third straight trip to the state title game. Lancaster will be tough as always and are rarely, if ever outcoached.
In Class A, I like what I’ve been seeing in West Seneca West and Williamsville East the past couple seasons and expect them to be very tough, but I see McKinley coming out of A.
Noah Willoughby, the standout QB from South Park is within striking distance of Joe Licata’s all-time passing yards record for NYSPHSAA. The Sparks are a young team but don’t let that fool you, South Park will be in the hunt along with Pioneer, Williamsville South, West Seneca East, Olean, Health Sciences and Iroquois.
My guess is a rematch of last year’s Class B final between Iroquois and Pioneer.
It’ll be a race to the finish for sure in Class C, don’t be surprised to hear Cleve Hill make some noise this season. Medina certainly isn’t ready to concede anything. Fredonia and Salamanca are both bigger, better and stronger then a year ago. I could see the Hillbillies and Golden Eagles battling it out at Highmark in a few months.
There will be a lot of chatter about the CSP Wolfpack down in Class D. With 2 State Titles already under their belts, the program is poised to make a run, and there are a number of players on the team that spent plenty of time in Syracuse watching their older brothers (and sister) win championships.
St. Francis is the barometer for Monsignor Martin and has been the past three years. It was Canisius. The Crusaders have been rebuilding as was St. Joe’s. Both programs are looking to make giant leaps forward, do they have the size to take down the Red Raiders?
One of the biggest travesties in local high school football is the MMAA playoff picture. Bishop-Timon, Cardinal O’Hara and St. Mary’s of Lancaster cannot play for a state title. I think that’s a huge mistake, but I understand why they did this. It’s a numbers game.
The three smaller private schools have not had good numbers and have struggled to put a quality team together, one that could compete with the larger schools Canisius and St. Francis in particular were much larger and not just in numbers.
Things are starting to change now, Timon is much improved from a few years ago. They may not have the depth, but they certainly match up better then in previous seasons. Cardinal O’Hara will surprise some teams this year. I don’t think they are at the level of Timon just yet, but they are a work in progress and there are a few kids in the program that you’ll hear about sooner then later.
It’s tough to build programs with nothing to play for. Put those three teams back where they belong.
This opening weekend I’ll be out on Thursday and Friday before heading out of state on Saturday. I’ll be at Starpoint for opening night and then split time on Friday between Olean at Falconer/Cass/Maple Grove and O’Hara at Chaut. Lake/Westfield/Brocton.
This season is being dedicated to Roger Weiss, Joe Foyle and Carl Kuras.
Tune into WNYAthletics and the NFHS Network for a great lineup of games. Also, check out the revamped WNYAthletics.com and contribute to the scoreboard!
See you at the field!