It's rivalry week y'all ... time to get our hate on. There's no love lost between many of these programs, most notably in the 'T-NT' game. With 110 years of action between the schools, it's safe to say this is one of the most storied football rivalries throughout the country.
The Jacks have had the Warriors number dating back all the way to the year 2000. With a chance to play spoiler, NT (1-5) can close out the first two decades of this millenium with all wins in this rivalry, leaving a playoff-bound Tonawanda (3-3) team heated heading into sectionals.
NT's Tim Osborn, Elijah Grisanti-Wake and Nick Messana joined us for one of this week's GNN Sports Podcast episodes, so make sure to listen to that on Friday through Spotify, the Apple podcast app, Anchor, on our @GNN_Sports_ Twitter page or right on the Niagara Gazette Facebook page.
We've also got young rivalries like Starpoint-Lockport, which began in the 2008 season. The Spartans and Lions have faced off 11 times now, with the Lions holding a slight 6-5 advantage. Starpoint, however, has won the last four matchups since 2015.
Outside of rivalry games, one meeting to watch will be Niagara Falls traveling over to Bennett for a pivotal Class AA battle. With a win, the Wolverines have a chance at taking the No. 4-seed in the sectional playoffs, guaranteeing a home game in the first round.
Week seven is here folks, making this the last time we'll see all of our local programs in action for the rest of the year.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Newfane @ Wilson
Friday, Oct. 18
This is one of the coolest matchups of the season, with the Panthers (Class B-4 champs) and Lakemen (Class C North champs) squaring off in this battle of champions. Newfane's Jaden Heers (698 rushing yards, 13 rushing TDs, 8.7 yards per carry) and Garrett Srock (750 rushing yards, 8 rushing TDs, 9.6 yards per carry) continue to strike fear into the hearts of defenses with their ground-and-pound approach.
This dynamic duo is the only teammate tandem in WNY where both players have rushed for at least 650 yards and eight or more scores. They will be tested by a strong Wilson defense though, led by the edge-rushing tandem of Declan Faery (35 tackles, 17 TFLs, 11.5 sacks) and Ben Mahar (30 tackles, 12 TFLs, 8.5 sacks), as well as 2018 All-State LB Drew Westmorland.
Both defensive units are as good as it gets. The Lakemen have allowed an average of six points per game, with no team scoring more than 12 points against them all year.
The Panthers stifled Lew-Port star Gino Fontanarosa last weekend and are led by Heers (60 total tackles), Josh Everett (44 tackles, 4 INTs, 6 pass deflections), Andy Lucinski (48 tackles, 2 sacks), Chance Caccamise (44 tackles, 2 pass deflections), Tyler Oudette (11 pass deflections, INT), Zach Snow (2 INTs) and Dylan Finch (3 sacks).
My key to the game will be how Newfane can slow down RB Brayden Dunlap and QB Bobby Atlas, who have combined to turn the ball over just twice all year. Dunlap (158 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs, 7.9 yards per carry, INT) is coming off of a big week against Silver Creek.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Brayden Dunlap, RB — Wilson
Dunlap has been the lifeblood of the Lakemen offense this year, putting up 671 rushing yards (111.8 yards per game), 5.4 yards per carry and eight total TDs (7 rushing, 1 receiving). His game against Silver Creek last weekend was his third 100-yard effort of the season, was his second multi-touchdown game of the year and his 7.9 yards per carry were the most in a game in 2019.
As we mentioned before, it should be a fun one with two divisional champs clashing just for the hell of it.
CALLING ON CAV
The Starpoint-Lockport game could be a special one for the Spartans program — with the win, head coach Al Cavagnaro will notch his 100th career victory. This would mean a lot to Coach Cav, who has family in Lockport and his two children, Allie and John, are Lockport High School alums.
Starpoint (4-2) also has the chance to knot the all-time record against Lockport (0-6) in this 12th meeting, which would be the team's fifth straight in the series.
Our local private school products in QB Tyler Baker (Lockport native) and RB JoJo Dixon (Niagara Falls) both led the offensive unit once again, but the Crusaders dropped a tight one to perennial Pennsylvania powerhouse Cathedral Prep, 21-12.
Even in a losing effort, this game could be a strong sign for Canisius moving forward. Baker (19-24, 174 passing yards, TD pass, TD rush) has taken steps each week in his developments as a pocket passer, while Dixon's 92 scrimmage yards (70 rushing, 22 receiving, 7.0 yards per carry) helped keep the offense moving along.
The Crusaders (2-4, 0-1 MM) will now move into the final portion of their Monsignor Martin slate, kicking things off on Saturday with their final regular season home game against Bishop Timon.
For more from sports reporter Khari Demos, follow him on Twitter @riri_demos. Also, tune in to Khari as a guest on Tony Caligiuri's 'Inside High School Sports,' Saturdays at 10 a.m. on WGR550.