The following are Dick Gallagher's picks for top teams and league MVPs as we head into the 2017 high school football season:
Preseason Top Teams
3. South Park
4. Orchard Park
9. West Seneca East
10. St. Joe’s
West Seneca West
Canisius: The Crusaders with Johnson and Huston leading the way will continue as one of the top programs in the state.
Lancaster: Mansell, Damiani, Giordano, and Andreesson will have the Legends competing for a 2nd consecutive sectional championship.
South Park: South Park is 18-4 in the past 2 seasons and had undefeated JV team in 2016. The Sparks will be explosive and talented. Sanders returns to Sparks and will anchor both lines.
Starpoint: Spartans have talent to compete again for the sectional title. They will be led by Robinson, Chase, Mazzara and Parisse.
Orchard Park: The Quakers look to rebound from last season’s 4 losses. They are led by Bruce, Strybel, Noah and Dylan Bieler
McKinley: The Macks have speed, talent, and athleticism which will have them competing for the sectional championship. They will be led by Haynes, Fields, Martin, and Hollamon.
Clarence: The Red Devils led by Putney, Jacob, and Stephens will compete for the league title.
Bennett: Barksdale, Pettway, and Wright will have Tigers in the playoff hunt.
West Seneca East: The Maurino Dynamic Duo twins will have the Trojans in the playoffs.
5. Cleveland Hill
6. Maple Grove
Cheektowaga: Cheektowaga will compete for another poll title and with beal, Gray III, and Whitaker will challenge for league and sectional titles.
Southwestern: Trojans will be explosive again on offense led by Snyder and Card and could be in the sectional title game for the second consecutive year.
Medina: The Mustangs will be explosive with Cooper, Salone, Lewis, and Rhim. Cooper is an outstanding athlete.
Lackawanna: The Steelers will compete for league title behind the Smith twins, Horton, Rice, and Ingram
Cleveland HilL: The Golden Eagles will be flying again behind Wahler and Majerowski.
Burgard: Burgard will play smash mouth football on every play. They will be led by Maple, Archie, Feganns, Moss, and Carson
Maple Grove: The Red Dragons will attempt to play in their seventh consecutive sectional championship game. Fabrizio, Trim, Nelson, and Tanner will be physical and explosive.
Maryvale: The Flyers will be flying with Costanzo, Casey, Desiderio and Law.
Alden: Alden with Snell, Cybulski, and Pastuszynski will have the Bulldogs barking again this season.
Franklinville/Ellicottville; The Titans with All-WNY candidate Brock Blecha on both sides of the ball, Chudy and Erickson could have the team in the sectional title game.
Preseason Team MVPs
Akron: Jacob Sarow
Albion: Meach Gardner
Alden: Christian Snell
Allegany-Limestone: Jake Lippert
Amherst: Ja’kye Womack
Barker/Roy-Hart: Salvatore Gioeli
Bennett: Brandon Barksdale
Burgard: Tony Maple
Cassadaga Valley/Falconer: Robbie Penhollow
Cattaraugus/LV: Austin Baker
Chautauqua Lake: Devin Pope
Cheektowaga: Ka’Sean Anthony
Clarence: Jack Putney
Cleveland Hill: Aaron Wahler
Clymer/Sherman/Panama: Tom Delahoy
Depew: Chad Biersbach
Dunkirk: Jaziah Rivera
East Aurora/Holland: Jon Anstett
Eden/North Collins: Zak DeCarolls
Ellicottville/Franklinville: Brock Blecha
Fredonia/Brocton/Westfield: Jamison Horch
Frewsburg: Trent Gray
Frontier: Kylan Kmitch
Gowanda: Robbie Chadwick
Grand Island: Cam Sionko
Hamburg: Jason Shuttleworth
Hutch-Tech: Rodney Bailey
Iroquois: Parker Valvo
Jamestown: Francisco Rodriguez
JFK: James Bailey
Kenmore East: Ja’Michael Henderson
Kenmore West: Andrew Fron
Lackawanna: Jaekwon Ingram
Lake Shore: Shane Failey
Lancaster: Ryan Mansell
Lewiston-Porter: Dylan Morrissettee
Lockport: Javon Ford
Maple Grove: Nick Fabrizio
Maryvale: Rashad Law
McKinley: Kaiyer Fields
Medina/Lyndonville: Jalin Cooper
Newfane: Connor Hill
Niagara Falls: Syquan Ralands
Niagara Wheatfield: Brian Lucinski
North Tonawanda: Sean Ferry
Olean: Dylan Vincent
Orchard Park; Nic Bruce
Pioneer: Mike Rigerman
Portville: DJ Hlasnick
Randolph: Andrew Bernard
Salamanca: Leland John
Silver Creek/Forestville: Austin Eggleston
South Park: Devonte Fountain
Southwestern: Cole Snyder
Springville: Mike Hannon
Starpoint: Anthony Robinson
Sweet Home: Tom Rivera
Tonawanda: Henry Palermo
West Seneca East: Jacob and Jared Maurino
West Seneca West: Jesse Broad
Williamsville East: Kevin Steele
Williamsville North: Marqual Wells
Williamsville South: Josh Foster
Wilson: Matt Lang
Cardinal O’Hara: Michon Dudley
St. Francis: Retsen Daley
St. Joseph’s: Casey Kelly
Canisius: Paul Woods
Timon/St. Jude: Unknown
St. Mary’s: James Miller