Niagara Gazette

October 11, 2013

FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Teams battle for playoff spots, positioning

By Mike Meiler
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — With only two weeks left in the Section VI football regular season, teams watch scoreboards and battle for wins as they jockey for playoff position.

The most interesting race may be in Class B North, where Lewiston-Porter, Bennett, Medina and Albion sit tied at 2-2 in league contests as they battle for the third and fourth postseason seeds.

There were only five head-to-head matchups between the teams scheduled for the regular season. Bennett earned a key win over the Lancers in Week Four, but L-P responded by beating Medina in a wild Week Six finish.

Lew-Port hosts Albion at 7 p.m. tonight and controls its own destiny. With a win, the Lancers would own head-to-head wins over Medina and Albion, and a win over Amherst in the regular season finale would clinch a playoff berth.

With a loss, the Lancers will be on the outside looking in, hoping for a Medina win over or Bennett in the final two weeks, then looking at tiebreakers.

Grand Island at Starpoint, 2 p.m. Saturday

The Vikings (4-1, 3-1) can clinch second place in the division and keep their hopes of hosting a playoff game alive with a win over their Class A North rivals, while the Spartans (1-4, 1-3) look to keep improving before the Chuck Funke Memorial Classic.

GI took its first loss of the season against Sweet Home last week, and head coach Dean Santorio said his team needs to be focused on rediscovering its winning formula.

“We don’t want (the players) to be on an emotional low,” Santorio said. “We want them to be focused.”

Starpoint coach Al Cavagnaro said his team is still looking for its best game.

“The guys have worked so hard in the weight room and everything else, they owe it to themselves to go out and play their best game,” he said. “We want to get some of that respect that we’d have had we been a little healthier and played a couple of good games.”

The Vikings will receive reinforcements in the form of Kurtis Johnson and Anthony Mosher, both injured for last week’s game. Cavagnaro said star Starpoint running back Evan Majewski is unlikely to play while dealing with hamstring and ankle injuries.

<\Bz14>Orchard Park at Niagara Falls, 2 p.m. Saturday

The Wolverines (1-4, 1-3) all but clinch a playoff spot with a win, which won’t come easy against the two-time Section VI Class AA defending champion Quakers (4-1, 3-1).

A slip up against Lockport in Week Two knocked OP out of its familiar spot atop the division, and a win at Sal Maglie Stadium would go a long way toward locking up a home playoff game for the Quakers, particularly with a showdown against a powerful Jamestown team scheduled for Week Seven.

Only one team misses the playoffs in this year’s nine-team division, and NF sits a game ahead of 0-4 West Seneca West with two weeks remaining. A win and a WSW loss clinches what will likely be a road playoff game, with a very long shot at a home contest if things break right over the next two weeks.

For now, NF coach Don Bass said his team looks forward to competing against one of the area’s best teams.

“If we play our game, we can compete with anybody,” Bass said. “Now’s our chance measure up against the best.”

Barker/Roy-Hart at Wilson, 7 p.m. tonight

Class C North’s Lakemen take on Class B North’s Raiders in a meeting of 0-5 teams.

The Raiders have bounced between Sections V and VI over the past few years, and a numerical error and changes within the section regarding the size classification of combined teams had them pegged as a Class C school until a few weeks before the start of the season.

Wilson won’t make the playoffs this year after losing to Newfane and JFK (both 1-3). Instead, the Lakemen are bound for the Chuck Funke Memorial Classic consolation tournament. Head coach Bill Atlas said he’s seen improvement over the season.

“We probably played out best game of the season last week,” he said of a 28-14 loss to Tonawanda. “Right now, we’re just trying to go out, improve every week and get our seniors a win.”