Dick Gallagher's Sidelines

7:33 PM, Aug 12, 2013   |    comments
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Can Alden win a 4th consecutive Class B Sectional Championship?
The Bulldogs have achieved a 32-3 record in the past 3 years, losing once in a state semi-finals and twice in the regionals. All three teams which defeated Alden won state championships.
With the sections realigned, the Bulldogs are in Class "B" South with rival Depew plus new opponents Pioneer, Springville, East Aurora, Olean, Dunkirk, and Eden. In Class "B" North, it is anticipated that Burgard and Cheektowaga are the primary contenders for the League and Sectional titles.
The Bulldogs return with QB Brian Stoldt who will start for his third consecutive year and has passed for 1668 yards, 20 touchdowns, and rushed for 352 yards and 17 touchdowns in his career. The senior quarterback is an outstanding leader and has two excellent receivers in Austin Hopcia and Dylan Dussault.
The Bulldogs will put points on the board but will miss running back Corey Barczykowski who rushed for 2252 yards and scored 27 touchdowns in 2012. More than likely new head coach Rob Currin will have his team passing more than in recent years.
The schedule for Alden is tough with three best matchups all on the road against Eden, Depew, and Olean. They also play a tough Pioneer team at home. Coach Currin has to replace quality linemen, particularly Jason Bunk, who graduated.
Prediction: Alden can win another title but will not be unbeaten. They will need to keep turnovers to a minimum and underclassmen will have to step it up. The matchup at Depew will be huge since the Bulldogs have won the last 6 games.
Who is the Favorite for the Connolly Cup?
In 2010, Chad Kelly, St. Joe's junior quarterback was a finalist for the award which went to Williamsville South senior quarterback Joe Licata. Kelly was not a happy camper and was on a mission the next season to win the prestigious award. In his senior year, he captured the Connolly Cupby throwing for a Western New York record 3056 passing yards.
Last season, Qadree Ollison, the junior running back for Canisius was a finalist for the award after rushing for 1876 yards, scoring 26 touchdowns, and leading the Crusaders to an unbeaten 11-0 season.
He, like Kelly was disappointed when it was announced that Alden senior running back Corey Barczykowski won the award.
For the 2013 season, "Q" set one of his goals to win the cup and it is the general consensus of Western New York High School Football fans that the "Q" express is this year's favorite.
During the off season, he received fifteen scholarship offers and narrowed his choices to Pittsburgh, Penn State, Syracuse, Rutgers, and Wisconsin.
The senior expects to make a verbal commitment prior to the season opener against McQuaid.
Other prime candidates for the award include: Jaleel Battle, Jordan Evert, Kolbe Huges, Rod Payne, Jake Sisson, Brian Stoldt, Brandon Thomas, and Emaure Williams.
For the class of 2015, leading candidates would be Tyrone Wheatley,Jr., and Brad Zaffram, Sweet Home.
Please note that running backs have won 28 and quarterbacks have won 11 of the previous 41 Connolly Cups. Only one receiver and one defensive end have won the award.
Which City of Buffalo Teams will Be a Playoff Contender?
Burgard, McKinley, and South Park can all contend for league and sectional titles. The team that should improve is Hutch-Tech who dropped from Class AA to Class "A" South. 
The Bulldogs season will depend on the play of the quarterback, although Jason Kolb prefers three yards and a cloud of dust offense. They have the talent to play at the Stadium in November for the Sectional Title.
The Macks are always competitive and have one of the areas top athletes in Jamar Rutledge directing the team. They should make the playoffs.
Sparks are primed to contend for titles with outstanding athleticism and speed to burn led by TJ Scott, Antonio Leonard, and William Burgess.
I can't see Bennett, East, Hutch Tech, or Riverside in the playoffs.
Will Sweet Home Win a 7th Consecutive Sectional Title?
The panthers have an amazing streak of winning 60 consecutive wins against Section VI opponents. This year's team will be young but explosive. They have tremendous leaders and talent in juniors Brandon Smiley and Jordan Evert. The key to the season will be the play of defense. It should run the streak to 64 in the first 4 games. They have a tough matchup in week 5 traveling to Grand Island. the Vikings always play the Panthers tough. Dean Santorio always has his team well prepared. this will be the game of the week. Other tough matchups include McKinley in week 7. the key to the season will be the play of the quarterback.
The Panthers have one of the top coaching staffs in New York State, led by John Faller who has won 191 games. 
Prediction: Do not think the Panthers will continue the unbeaten streak against Section VI opponents. They will make the playoffs and can win another title. Other Class A teams that will vie for the title include Grand Island, West Seneca East, McKinley, South Park, Williamsville North, and Williamsville South.
Which teams will be impacted the most by the Section VI alignment for this season?
Frewsburg, with a few exceptions, had difficulty in matching up with Class D powers Maple Grove and Randolph. With the Bears moving down to Class DD, they will contend for League and Sectional titles. 
Lackawanna moving to Class "C" North will benefit the Steelers who will compete for League and Sectional titles. The offense sparked by All-WNY candidate Cameron Smith will light up the scoreboard. 
Hutch Tech, who move from Class AA to Class "A" South is favorable for the engineers who can compete for a playoff berth. They have quality talent and athleticism in Roman West and Donte Gibson.
Can Jamestown Win Their First Sectional Title since 2000?
Since 2000, Orchard Park has dominated Class AA, playing in 11 title games while winning 8 championships. The last time Jamestown defeated the Quakers at Orchard Park was September 25th, 1992 -- the Red Raiders won 26-21. The Quakers have dominated the series for the past several years and so for Jamestown to earn a Sectional title in 2013, the road goes through "Quakerville", "Quakertown" or "Quaker University" -- the Quakers have beaten the Red Raiders for the title in 2011 and 2012.
This year however, the Red Raiders return several quality starters and will field one of the most potent offenses in Western New York and New York State. Quarterback Jake Sisson accounted for 2000 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior while star running back Da'Quan Hollingsworth rushed for 1310 yards and 21 touchdowns. At WR, Zack Panebianco and Stephon Carlson can light it up and the offense will also include Zack Kinsey who excelled at running back for the JV team last season. The Red Raiders line will be anchored by Joe Mistretta and Jack Blake. They will need to improve their defense which gave up 200 points in 2012.
The Red Raiders should be undefeated when they travel to Orchard Park in week 7. The game should decide the "AA" league title and earn the winner the opportunity of their playoff games played at home.
The Red Raiders can win a sectional title but will have to defeat the Quakers in week 7 and at the Stadium for the title. 
Which teams could surprise this season?
A few of the many teams that could be sleepers this season include the following:
Williamsville North: The Spartans return several starters from last year's 3-6 squad. Skill players are excellent with quarterback Ryan Majewski, running back Derrick Isler and WR Kolbe Hughes who is a legitimate division I prospect. They return 4 of 5 linemen and have quality defensive players in Hughes, Zack Kelly, George Attea, Nick Ames, and Jake Ames. The season barometer will be in week 2 when the Spartans play at Williamsville South. They could win Class "A" Central.
East Aurora/Holland: The Blue Devils merged with Holland to strengthen the football program. Tim Wade returns several quality starters from last year's injury riddled team. They have outstanding talent in Joe Gugino, Dan Raischuck, Grant Haffenden, Bryce Potter and Pat Garvey. The key to the season will be the play of the quarterback. The schedule is tough playing away games at Depew, Pioneer, and Alden. In the past when the Blue Devils have talent, they win. As long as they can avoid the injury bug and the merger has good team chemistry, they could surprise.
Lancaster: Redskins return quality starters in quarterback Kevin Cola Franceschi, Matt Szymanski, Mitch Fuller, Corey Helenbrook, and Tom Hineman. The offense could be explosive. They have tough matchups at Jamestown and home with Orchard Park in weeks 4 and 5. They lost several close games in 2012. they need to finish games this season. They could be 3-0 before playing Jamestown.
South Park: Even with the loss of Maurice Howie, the Sparks coached by Tim Delaney should make the playoffs and compete for league and sectional titles. They return several quality starters as well as transfers from the City of Buffalo. The key players will be Antonio Leonard, Brandon Jefferson, Danny Gerace, and Williams and Wiquan Burgess. The offense will be more balanced this season. The toughest matchups will occur in week 3 when the Sparks host Jamestown and in week 5 when they play at West Seneca East.
Will Southwestern's Tanner Hoose Break the Western New York career field goal record?
Tanner booted 9 field goals as a sophomore to the Western New York record of field goals in a season. In 2012, the junior kicked 3 to give him a total of 12. The current record is 16 held by Ryan Rambacher, Maple Grove from 1993-1996. Coach Jay Sirianni will make sure Tanner has many attempts this season. Thus Tanner will break the record. The New York State record for field goals in a season is 23 held by Mike Chrystie and Skip Thomas. Tanner is also capable of breaking the New York State record this season.

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