By Mike Meiler firstname.lastname@example.org
Niagara Gazette — The Wilson Lakemen host the Newfane Panthers at 7 p.m. tonight with more than a Class C North win on the line — the rivals will be playing for year-long bragging rights in what’s become an annual contest.
Both teams were shellacked in league losses on opening weekend, with the Lakemen dropping a 45-6 decision at Akron and Newfane falling 38-18 to host Lackawanna.
“The were a much better football team than we were,” Wilson coach Bill Atlas said of the Tigers.
The Lakemen (0-1) struggled to contain Akron’s Austin Lauricella and Peter Szlapek, but Atlas said that shouldn’t be an issue this week.
“I don’t think Newfane has anybody like those two,” he said.
The local rivalry springs from proximity. In the past, students from both districts often played together in the New-Wil-Ran youth football league, and the high school teams still get together for workouts over the offseason.
“We see them a lot during the summertime because we’re so close,” Atlas said. “We do a lot in the offseason. These kids all know each other.
“We shouldn’t have to talk about being motivated, we just have to make sure we stay focused and not overhype it.”
Wilson beat Newfane, 12-6, in a meeting last season.
Grand Island at North Tonawanda, 7 p.m. tonight
The Vikings will have their hands full with the Lumberjacks’ triple-option offense when these two local schools meet in each’s Class A North opener.
Grand Island (1-0) eked a 17-6 non-league win at Hamburg last week, while NT topped Lake Shore, 46-28.
Both teams are dealing with injuries to key offensive players. GI quarterback Quinn Corrao went down with an injury during the second quarter against the Bulldogs, while NT running back Nehemiah Stone suffered a knee injury during the offseason.
GI coach Dean Santorio said Corrao had a high ankle sprain and would be a game-time decision, while Stone isn’t expected back until next week.
Santorio said the key would be how his defense handled the option offense.
“It’s the type of offense where you have to be very disciplined and play assignment football,” he said. “It’s hard to simulate in practice, and you don’t want to get beat because of the speed of it.”
The Vikings won last year’s meeting, 35-21.
Niagara Falls at Frontier, 7 p.m. tonight
The Wolverines (0-1 Class AA) were blown out by a big, mauling team last week at Jamestown, and they get another in the Falcons.
“We are far better than we showed Friday,” said head coach Don Bass. “We only had one guy on both sides of the offensive and defensive lines that had any experience.”
Frontier blew out Clarence in its opener, 38-12, and Bass said his team knows the challenge the Falcons present.
“It was a sloppy game (against Jamestown), but we kept fighting,” Bass said. “We hurt ourselves. We have to play mistake free football.”
Barker/Roy-Hart at Lew-Port, 7 p.m. tonight
After beating Niagara-Wheatfield in a non-league rivalry game last weekend, the Lancers (1-0) open their Class B North schedule against the Raiders (0-1), who lost a league game to Albion in Week One.
The Lew-Port offense struggled against the Falcons, particularly along the offensive line. Head coach Jon Hoover said it’s simply a case of having to work harder.
“We kind of challenged (the line) this week to step up and come together as a unit,” Hoover said. “They had a big, strong line, and we didn’t match up well against that, but we still have to be able to play harder than we did. We didn’t finish our blocks, we didn’t move people, and that’s what we have to get better at.”
Starpoint at Ken East, 2 p.m. Saturday
The Spartans (0-1) face the Bulldogs (1-0) after taking a 7-0 loss in a mud-caked non-league game against rival Lockport last weekend. KE beat East Aurora/Holland, also in a non-leaguer.
The teams open their Class A North schedules in a rematch of last year’s 20-19 KE win, the first of three in a four-game span to close the season for the Bulldogs.
“After the fact, yeah, the loss helps,” said Starpoint coach Al Cavagnaro. “It’ll give us some motivation.”
Class A North
Sweet Home at Nia.-Wheatfield, 2 p.m. Saturday
The Falcons (0-1) face the perennial Class A North favorite Panthers (1-0) in their league opener.
N-W lost to rival Lew-Port (Class B) in a non-league game last week, while Sweet Home beat Class A South Iroquois, 27-13.
The Panthers haven’t lost a game to a Section VI opponent in five years, spanning over 60 games.