(1) Franklinville/Ellicottville Titans VS (8) Portville Panthers
Friday 10/20/17 7pm @ Ellicottville
The Titans have outscored their opponents 297-70 during the regular season. They are led by senior QB Brock Blecha who is having another outstanding season. F/E went undefeated through the regular season knocking off Maple Grove, CSP and Chautauqua Lake the second, third and fourth seeds respectively in Class D by a combined score of 100-18.
F/E has been getting it done on both sides of the football which presents big problems for the Panthers. “We probably won’t stop them entirely (no one has), so we will have to make them earn every play,” Portville head coach Gary Swetland said.
Portville lost all but one game during the regular season defeating Nichols in a nonleague contest 56-28 in Week 6. They were blanked by Maple Grove in Week 7, 47-0. The Panthers defense will be tested early and often Friday night and will need to rely on a young squad to slow Blecha and the Titans down.
Besides Blecha, F/E has a host of weapons that have worn down opponents all season. Griffin Chudy is a senior running back and three-year starter is having a good season along with Austin Grinols (RB), Sam Erickson (TE) and Walter Woodarek (OL) who is one of the best lineman in WNY.
The Panthers have a good mix of players in Brendan and Dalton Tobola, Kyle Murray the team’s QB, Noah Pullins, Brandon Murray and Roland Thompson.
The loyal observers will tell you the Titans will roll, but there is a reason why they play these games. If F/E is looking past the Panthers, it would be a big mistake.
(2) Maple Grove Red Dragons VS (7) Randolph/Frewsburg Cardinals
Friday 10/20/17 7pm @ Maple Grove
The Red Dragons are a younger version of the team that went all the way to State’s last season but still very productive. Other than a Week 3 loss to Franklinville/Ellicottville it has been business as usual for Maple Grove. The team finished 5-1 in league play which included impressive wins over CSP, Chautaugua Lake and an improving Randolph/Frewsburg squad. Led by senior captain and star running back Nick Fabrizio, the Red Dragons amassed 228 points. The defense allowed 60 points which was the lowest in Class D.
Maple Grove scored a 39-6 victory over Randolph/Frewsburg in Week 6 at home, which is where the same two teams will play Friday night. Despite the loss, Randolph/Frewsburg had a decent first season as a team finishing 3-4 overall. They won three of their last four games, including a week 4 win over Class C’s Allegany-Limestone. No doubt the merger took its toll on the players early on but they appear to be playing at a level fit for playoff competition. Rocco Oliverio and Jake Brown will be asked to carry the load for the Cardinals.
Along with Fabrizio, Red Dragons quarterback Easton Tanner has been almost unstoppable, he picked up 212 yards on the ground and three rushing TD’s to go along with his two TD passes when these teams met back in week 6.
(3) Clymer/Sherman/Panama (CSP) Wolfpack VS (6) Cattaraugus/Little Valley Timberwolves
Saturday 10/21/17 1:30pm (@ Clymer)
They are still a young team but Clymer/Sherman/Panama (CSP) has been playing with a lot of confidence after their second straight winning season. Although they lost to the top teams in Class D in Maple Grove and Franklinville/Ellicottville, the Wolfpack showed the heavyweights of the division that they are not far behind. They have won by committee this year and it all starts with one of the best lineman up front in senior Thomas Delahoy. Offensively, Tanner Ramsey and Derek Ecklund have been a solid 1-2 punch out of the backfield for head coach Ty Harper “We have three really talented, unselfish kids that run the ball in Ramsey, Ecklund and Michael Beatman,” Harper said. Slinging the football is sophomore QB Gerrit Hinsdale, whose name you might not be familiar with now but with the emergence of the Wolfpack, it’s one you’ll be hearing about as CSP climbs to the top. They’ll first have to find a way to beat the Cattaraugus/Little Valley Timberwolves (CLV). Securing a home playoff game was one of Harper’s main goals last season. But things didn’t work out well for the Wolfpack in 2016, losing to Randolph and ending their playoff’s early.
The Timberwolves lost their final two games of the 2017 regular season that saw them drop from fourth place and hosting a playoff game, all the way down to sixth. The same two teams met up back in Week 2 with CSP taking a 41-18 win. Last week vs Randolph/Frewsburg the Timberwolves only attempted three passes and were held to 71 yards on offense while giving up 517 yards.
Expect to see a lot of Zach Bieber and Jason Miller from CLV as they will handle a bulk of the carries.
The CSP defense is led by Delahoy and Dalton Goldberg, who recently set a new program record for sacks after recording his 10th of the season. The Wolfpack held the Titans star QB Brock Blecha to just 60 yards rushing, which, is quite the accomplishment considering the numbers Blecha has put up.
If CSP is going to take another step in the right direction, they’ll need to concentrate on this match-up, otherwise CLV could end another promising season earlier than expected.
(4) Chautaqua Lake Thunderbirds VS (5) Salamanca Warriors
Friday 10/20/17 7pm @ Chautauqua Lake
The Thunderwolves finished with a 2-3 record in Class D and will host the Warriors Friday night. These two teams did not play during the regular season but faced like opponents such as Franklinville/Ellicottville, Maple Grove and CSP. The results weren’t kind for either squad but there are a number of teams in Class D that suffered the same results.
The playoffs are here and these two teams in particular are playing with house money. “It was very important for us to have a home playoff game,” first year head coach Rich Morton said. “It was a goal of ours all year. It is also very nice for our seniors to have an opportunity to make up for last week against Franklinville/ Ellicottville and win their last home game.”
Chautauqua Lake will look to Josh Walsh, Collin Wood and Devin Pope to carry the offense behind a physical line led by Jared Hepp. Defensively Bryce Rowe and Blaine Thomas have been key contributors all season.
Coach Morton stressed that the Thunderwolves want to get back to playing at a high level and that a great week of practice will be the key.
Salamanca is big up front and although they have not had a great season from a win/loss perspective, they’ve played with some real spirit. Braden Siebert and Ira John are good running backs and will need to establish a ground game early against a tough CL front. Zariah Armstrong is the Salamanca quarterback.
The Warriors have won three of their last five, including a nonleague game against Section IV Watkins Glen/Odessa-Montour 34-28.
This game truly is a toss-up and will be won in the trenches.
This Wednesday Night from 9-11pm on the WNYAthletics Facebook Page CSP Coach Ty Harper will join our panel live to discuss the Class D Playoff picture.
For coverage of the Class D playoffs on twitter we follow:
Andrew Kuczkowski @kuczkowski95
Gib Snyder @GWSIII1823
Shawn Campbell @ByShawnCampbell
Scott Kindberg @ScottKindberg
Sam Wilson @samwils
Gregory Larson @GregLarsonWDOE