By Mike Meiler firstname.lastname@example.org
Niagara Gazette — Three weeks of high school football have set up a semi-unlikely battle of undefeated schools trying stay atop Class A North when the Grand Island Vikings host the Kenmore East Bulldogs at 2 p.m. Saturday in GI’s homecoming game.
While the Vikings (3-0, 2-0) were picked to enjoy some regular season success following last year’s 7-2 campaign, the Ken East (3-0, 2-0) start has been a bit surprising. The Bulldogs finished 4-5 last season following an 0-9 year in 2011.
“They’ve got some athletes,” said GI coach Dean Santorio. “Their quarterback (senior Connor McMahon) is a three-year starter who can throw the ball, and they’ve got a running back (Preston Smith) that is having a good year.
“We definitely won’t take them for granted.”
Saturday’s game will mark the return of GI senior quarterback Quinn Corrao, who suffered a high-ankle sprain in a season-opening win over Hamburg on Sept. 6, and lineman Joe Gioeli.
Santorio added that senior wide receiver Ben Goc (shoulder) and Dominic Petrilli (ankle) are likely out for the season.
Nia.-Wheatfield at Starpoint, 2 p.m. Saturday
One of these two banged-up A North teams will pick up its first win of the season, barring a tie.
The Falcons (0-3, 0-2) lost to Lewiston-Porter, Sweet Home and Grand Island, while the Spartans (0-3, 0-2) fell against Lockport, Ken East and Sweet Home.
N-W is likely without senior RB Joe Ayers for the rest of the season, while Starpoint coach Al Cavagnaro said his team will be without QB Sam Terrazzino. Star RB Evan Majewski will be a game-time decision.
The game will also be the Spartans’ homecoming.
Lockport at Niagara Falls, noon Saturday
The Wolverines (0-3 AA) celebrate their homecoming by hosting the Lions (2-1, 1-1 AA) in their first “home” game of 2013 after last week’s bout with Lancaster was moved due to a flooded playing surface at Sal Maglie Stadium.
While NF is searching for its first win, Lockport has had an up-and-down couple of weeks, upsetting perennial favorite Orchard Park on Sept. 14 before falling to Frontier last week.
“They’re pretty much a mirror of what we do offensively,” said NF coach Don Bass. “It should be nothing new for our defense.”
Offensively, though, the Wolverines could struggle to replace senior center James Goldston, who Bass dismissed due to “conduct detrimental to the team.” Junior Timere Ralands, whose brother, Tikere, starred for NF last season, will take over.
Lew-Port at Bennett, 7 p.m. tonight
Two teams with contrasting seasons meet at All-High Stadium in Buffalo in a Class B North battle.
The Lancers (2-1, 1-1) beat Nia.-Wheatfield and Barker/Royalton-Hartland before being crushed by Burgard last week, while the Tigers (1-2) were shut out by Cheektowaga and Burgard before hanging 60 points in a blowout of Maryvale.
Bennett boasts size and athleticism similar to Burgard, and L-P coach Jon Hoover said his team is better prepared this week.
“We made some changes on the offensive line, switching positions and personnel,” he said. “We’ve stressed toughness all week. We don’t feel we had that last week, and we’re a better team than we showed (against Burgard).”
Wilson at JFK, 1:30 p.m. Saturday
A pair of winless Class C North teams meet when the Lakemen (0-3) travel to play the Bears (0-3, 0-2).
Despite starting the years blowout losses, Wilson coach Bill Atlas said a win could keep his team in playoff contention.
“They’re struggling a little bit like we are, but it’s still a battle for a playoff spot,” Atlas said. “With three league games left, if we can put together a couple wins, we can still chase the playoffs.”
Follow Gazette sports reporter Mike Meiler on Twitter @mikemeiler for updates on your local teams.