Niagara Gazette — Opening weekend of the 2013 high school season features a doozy of a game, when the Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons host the Lewiston-Porter Lancers at 2 p.m. Saturday in what was once one of Niagara County’s great football rivalries.
The yearly matchup stalled when the two schools changed divisions, but the former N-W coach Jim Hagerty rekindled the competitive fire two years ago when he called the Lew-Port athletic department to attempt to renew the rivalry.
“We didn’t play them for a few years, which was too bad because it’s a natural rivalry,” L-P coach Jon Hoover said. “Because our borders touch, there’s always a constant interaction. Some of our guys’ parents work with the parents of Wheatfield kids. It’s a great rivalry and everybody is really excited about it.”
When the arrangement was made, both programs were struggling, coming off one-win seasons in 2011. Hoover said they agreed to bring back the rivalry in an effort to raise excitement.
The Lancers look to have turned their fortunes around, going 6-3 in 2012. The Falcons’ struggles continued as they went 0-8, but the game will represent the first under new coach Brent Tylec, who replaced Hagerty this offseason.
“Wheatfield is Wheatfield,” said Hoover, himself a N-W grad. “Even if they’ve had a couple of down years, they always have tough kids that know the game and play hard and want to win. That’s what the program has been about for years and years. We’re not taking them lightly at all.”
Niagara Falls at Jamestown, 7 p.m. tonight
The elimination of division in Class AA means that the Wolverines will have to compete with the ultra-competitive teams from southern Section VI, starting with their opening game against the Red Raiders.
The Wolverines have speed to burn, which can be both good and bad against the southern teams, which are known more for their size and toughness.