As a pollster for the Buffalo News, I'm asked to send in my weekly ballots ranking the top ten large and small schools. The polls are based on games played through Sunday of each week. Here's a look at how I see them and some of the rationale used to get there.
1. Niagara Falls (AA) - A busy week for the Wolverines saw them play four games in five nights. I can't see another team from WNY competing with Milton as well as NFHS did, and that was without the services of starter Tikere Ralands, who missed this week with an ankle injury. It's difficult to gauge the loss to Cathedral Prep, who used the stall ball tactic thanks to no shot clock in PA. I'm happy to report that there is a fully functional three-point line in gyms throughout PA.
2. Canisius (MMA) - The Crusaders found themselves in a couple battles with local teams this week. I haven't seen a team locally that passes the ball as well as Canisius. They welcome a team to Deleware Ave. on Saturday in Cathedral Prep, that also moves the ball very well.
3. Jamestown (AA) - Frontier has been one of the better teams in ECIC I, and the Red Raiders beat them by 46 points.
4. Bishop Timon/St. Jude (MMA) - The news that Jim Palano plans to retire after this season should give the Tigers extra incentive for the rest of this year. Timon's remaining schedule is back-loaded, meaning we'll have to wait a couple more weeks for things to really heat up in South Buffalo.
5. St. Joe's (MMA) - Hopefully they got all that good will out of their systems after the China game, because Aquinas visits on Saturday and they'll need their grittiest performance of the season to beat the Lil Irish.
6. McKinley (A1) - The Macks are off and rolling in the Yale Cup with a 4-0 mark and East coming to town on Wednesday. They backed up their ranking with a solid showing against the Crusaders.
7. Kenmore West (AA) - Took care of NT last week, the team in the NFL that is contending for second place with them.
8. Williamsville East (A1) - The Flames look poised to take complete control of ECIC II tonight when they visit the Billies.
9. Riverside (A2) - Move ahead of the Engineers after beating them at home last week. The loss at East keeps them from moving any higher at this point.
10. Hutch-Tech (A1) - A better body of work than East Aurora for the final spot. Lost to St. Mary's by less and beat Cheektowaga, who beat the Blue Devils.
1. Olean (B1) - Does anyone out there think the Huskies will move from this spot before December 2014?
2. St. Mary's (MMA) - The Lancers are riding a three-game losing streak and moved back to number two on this ballot. The strong finish against Canisius was impressive, and looking back, so is their body of work - A 15-point win over Hutch-Tech and 20+ point wins over Frontier, Wilson, East Aurora, Alden, Burgard, and City Honors.
3. Tonawanda (B1) - Still unbeaten and after they face Holland, will be halfway through the ECIC IV schedule. They aren't a deep team and they lack size across the board, but they do have one of the best players in WNY in Jesse Lalka.
4. Depew (B1) - The loss at East Aurora drops the Wildcats behind Tonawanda, who beat them.
5. OTC/MEC (C1) - The Kats were unable to close out East Aurora at the MLK Classic and then fell victim to a "put the team on my shoulders" finish from Stan Wier.
6. East (B1) - Who are these guys? The team that beat Riverside and lost by one to Hutch-Tech, or the team that went to OT against Burgard? The answer is both, something they'll have to work out before sectionals.
7. MST Seneca (C2) - Survived a thriller last week against I-Prep to stay unbeaten, thanks to 29 points from Aaron Frasier and a buzzer-beater by Javaughn McNab.
8. Wilson (B2) - The Lakemen make their debut on this ballot after 20-point wins over Newfane and Akron last week. Their only losses are to Riverside and St. Mary's.
9. I-Prep (C2) - Saw them twice in three days - a last second loss to MST Seneca and a win over Cheektowaga (who beat East Aurora). The thought I had after seeing them...they're a top ten small school.
10. Archbishop Walsh (MMA) - Trailed St. Joe's by just one point after three quarters on Sunday before falling, 69-60.