Alex Brasky | @BataviasBestHS
Monday, August 13, 2018 | BataviasBest.org
Before I set out to begin my HS Football Training Camp Tour, here is the first edition of my 2018 HS Football Preseason Power Rankings – which is a list of the top-teams within my coverage area.
The Training Camp Tour was postponed this afternoon due to rain, and will kick off tomorrow (weather permitting) with a visit to Van Detta Stadium in Batavia. Stay tuned!
Batavia finished the 2017 season with a loss in the Section V Class B Semifinals to eventual champion Hornell, after enduring an independent schedule – which has been the case for the Blue Devils throughout the past few seasons. This year, however, they have joined the LCAA/GRAA and will be striving for a League Title, along with their fourth Section V Title in the past five seasons.
Although they will be without a few key starters from last year, including perennial all-star DL Butch Ray, and last year’s starting QB Chandler Baker, they return perhaps their most-important player in RB Ray Leach – who was recently injured in an off the field scuffle with a teammate. All accounts point to Leach being in good health and, although he hasn’t been cleared to play just yet, just weeks away from being back on the football field.
This year Batavia will feature their fourth different QB in as many seasons, and it will be interesting to see whether the Devils try to get production out of their passing game, or rather opt for a more run-heavy approach on offense – which is what I expect.
Whatever happens with Batavia this year remains to be seen. However, I believe it’s safe to say that their spot on the top of my power rankings, where they’ve sat since I started them, is safe for the time being.
Alexander finished with a 9-1 record and one win away from a second-consecutive Section V Title last season, and return more than enough to further their recent success.
Running back Chris McClinic is back for his senior season at Alexander, after an incredible 2017 campaign in which he finished with near 2,000 yards rushing. His counterpart, sophomore Terrez Smith, is also back in the fold for 2018, making the Trojans’ backfield one of the most-talented in Section V this year.
Whether or not Alexander regains their championship form will depend heavily upon what they can muster defensively, as they will be forced to replace a number of key pieces who propelled their efforts a year ago. For the time being, they come in as my number two team to begin the year.
Cal-Mum/Byron-Bergen was the only local team to finish with a Section V Title last season, finishing with an 8-3 overall record which included a 3-1 divisional mark.
Although I predicted they would have championship potential in 2018-2019, a bit of turbulence hit the Red Raiders mid-season and made it look as if their hopes would be dashed. However, C-M/B-B made the most of their six-seed in the Class C playoffs, and wound up finishing on the mountain top.
A long list of contributing seniors is what fueled the Raiders’ engine last season, so replacing them this year is certainly going to be a tall task. Despite the tough road ahead, however, C-M/B-B can find solace in the fact that their leading rusher from 2017 will return to the backfield this year.
Junior Bryce Yockel is sure to be the driving force behind this team this year, as they look to a list of new faces in hopes of recapturing their success from last season.
They have plenty to prove in 2018, but the Raiders begin the season as my number three team in the local area.
4. Le Roy
Le Roy was ousted in the Class C Semifinals by longtime rival Cal-Mum/Byron-Bergen, and will be out for vengeance in 2018.
The Knights were forced to say goodbye to much of their core from a season ago, but return plenty at the skill positions and hope to allow their talent to drive them this year. QB Jake Hill, RBs Kylar LaCarte and Cineque Robinson, and TE Reece Tresco will be the top-producers for LR this year, as all four are returning from productive campaigns in 2017.
It will likely take a win over C-M/B-B in Week 4 to vault the Knights over the Raiders in my rankings, but Le Roy won last regular season’s matchup between the two rivals, and like I said before, they’ll be out for vengeance.
Under new leadership last season, Attica was able to tread water and finish with a 5-4 overall record – which included a win in the Connors and Ferris Bowl. The Blue Devils were forced to endure a daunting schedule in 2017, and will once again go through much of the same teams as they did a season ago.
It will be difficult for Attica to get out of the regular season with a chance at the Sectional Tournament, but if they are to do so it will be behind the efforts from returning RB Mason Compton and QB Ed Strzelec. Compton was a 1,000-yard rusher last year and will likely build on his totals in 2018.
It’s tough for me to rank Attica amongst the other teams due to the difficulty of their schedule in comparison to their sectional classification. A Class C football school, Attica is scheduled to play Class B’s top-three teams Hornell, Livonia, and Batavia, while also having more-reasonable Class C opponents Bath-Haverling, Le Roy, and Avon on their regular season slate. This roller-coaster scheduling makes it difficult for me to get a grasp on the Blue Devils.
For now, they enter training camp as my number five team.
York/Pavilion will be an interesting team to watch this year.
The Golden Knights are under their third head coach in the past four seasons, and are hoping that their returning veteran leadership will be enough to carry them this year. Returning their entire backfield, including third-year QB Matt McFarland and 2017 leading-rusher RB Sebastian Hackett, Y/P will not be short on talent this year, but it remains to be seen whether or not they will have the strength up front that will allow them to compete with the top-teams on their LCAA schedule.
Although I believe they will improve their positioning in my rankings before season’s end, York/Pavilion begins the year as my sixth-ranked squad.
Oakfield/Elba is still a program trying to find its legs since merging the two programs together just a few seasons ago. This might be their breakout year, however, as they welcome back starting QB Colton Dillon, along with their two starting RBs Collin O’Halloran and Gage Dieterle.
In addition to their talent in the backfield, OA/E has experience along the line of scrimmage as OL Isaac Meijia and Seth Seppala are back to aid a growing offense.
This group has a long way to go before they prove themselves as a top-team in the area, but their first step towards doing so may take place this season.
8. Notre Dame
The Irish will enter the season under new leadership, as former Elba head coach Joe Zambito takes the step up from assistant to the head spot – taking over for longtime ND coach Rick Mancuso, who retired during the offseason.
Although things seem bleak for Notre Dame, whose football program has struggled mightily throughout the past few seasons, appearances can be deceiving.
The Irish have one of the most well-sized offensive lines in all of the LCAA/GRAA, and despite having to start from scratch in the backfield, their talent up front will allow their green skill players to stay within themselves as they develop.
The task is tall for coach Zambito as he takes over at ND. Good news for him is that there is no where to go, but up, as they begin the year as my number eight team.
Pembroke is in for a tough year this year.
After reaching great heights in 2017, the Dragons were forced to say goodbye to almost all of what propelled them to the Section V Class C Semifinals.
This year, Pembroke begins the year as the bottom team in my rankings, and have a tall hill to climb to up their standing by season’s end. If the Dragons are to make any noise this year, it will likely be behind returning RB Nick Clark, who spent time backing up Zach von Kramer a year ago.
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