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 Saturday of each week. Here's a look at how I see them and some of the rationale used to get there.
1. Canisius (MMA) - Swept the regular season series against Nichols to remain unbeaten in the MMA. Fell at Cathedral Prep on Thursday, a team Aquinas just beat. The Crusaders visit Section V's Class AA favorite, undefeated Aquinas, tomorrow night.
2. Jamestown (AA) - The Red Raiders have made it through the entire ECIC I, with their closest game being a 15-point victory over Lancaster. After the loss to Canisius in December, they have faced four ranked large schools & beat all four - St. Joe's by 16, Olean by 15, Amherst by 10, & North by 16.
3. McKinley (A1) - The Macks are at East High tomorrow night with plenty at stake. McKinley basically clinches Yale Cup I with a win. Round one went to the Macks, a 73-70 win over the visiting Panthers.
4. Williamsvillle South (A1) - The Billies have rolled through ECIC II and have to have their eye on the postseason at this point. Their only loss was to Aquinas back in late December - a team that reminds me somewhat of McKinley. Hmm.
5. Amherst (A2) - The Tigers are three wins from finishing the season undefeated in ECIC III, and then it'll be time to begin the mission of reclaiming that Class A2 title.
6. Williamsville North (AA) - The Spartans have rolled in every victory this season - they haven't won a game by less than 16 points. Their only three losses all came to teams above them on this ballot - Jamestown, McKinley, & South.
7. Timon (MMA) - After a season-opening loss to Williamsville North, the Tigers have climbed into the poll and are now tucked right behind the Spartans on my ballot and in the News poll. Glad to see everyone got my "vote for Timon" invitation.
8. Nichols (MMA) - The Vikings are coming off a tough week, with a pair of losses at Canisius & Timon. This week, Nichols hosts St. Joe's & Park. Last year, they beat Park at home on February 15th, part of a seven-game winning streak on its way to the Manhattan Cup.
9. St. Joe's (MMA) - Looking at the Marauders schedule, they're amidst a five-game stretch of Park, Canisius, Timon, Bishop Kearney, & Nichols. They also scheduled games at Jamestown & at Aquinas, and faced Henninger & Jamesville DeWitt in Syracuse. It's a good thing that team has grit.
10. Olean (A2) - They continue to win their league games, but haven't been lighting the world on fire in the process. I don't see this as a team that's going to bury the competition like last year's bunch was capable of, but this team is more than capable of winning Class A2 this season.
1. Park (MMA) - The Pioneers are winners of 14 straight games, with four more on tap for this week, including a pair of tests against ranked large schools, Nichols & Timon.
2. Fredonia (B2) - The Hillbillies outscored Cardinal O'Hara, 56-14, in the second half of their 81-38 win on Saturday. They'll face another MMA opponent on Wednesday night when they visit the team I have one spot below them - St. Mary's.
3. St. Mary's (MMA) - Trailed the mighty Park School by just three points heading into the fourth quarter on Wednesday night, before falling by 11. This week, they face a rematch with Walsh, who they clipped at the buzzer in round one, host Fredonia for a great matchup of top small schools, and then head into Canisius for a Sunday matinee.
4. East (B2) - The Panthers will look to hand McKinley its first loss in the city this season on Tuesday, while looking to make Starling Bryant the all-time winningest coach in the city.
5. Middle College (C2) - The Kats took their loss against McKinley out on Riverside this week, crushing the Frontiers by 37 points. The next two that will try to stand in Middle College's way are Hutch-Tech & South Park this week.
6. Sherman (D) - Just two wins away from an undefeated regular season. The only real obstacle could be Maple Grove, who the Wildcats host tomorrow. But just a few weeks ago, Sherman went there and won by 17 points.
7. Salamanca (C1) - The Warriors got Jared Fish back in their lineup, but fell to Cuba Rushford last week, a team they opened the season with a victory against. This is a huge week for them, starting tonight with a rematch against Randolph, who beat the Warriors once already, and then a trip to Silver Creek on Thursday.
8. Silver Creek (C1) - The Black Knights find themselves in the position of controlling their own destiny. If they win out, they are champions of CCAA I East. That means they'll need to avenge a loss to Salamanca on Thursday night in the 'Game of the Week'.
9. Tapestry (C1) - We're going to learn a lot about the Thunderhawks very soon. Wednesday night, they face Global Concepts, Friday they play Health Sciences, and next week, they travel to Salamanca.
10. Health Sciences (B2) - The Falcons have won eight straight games, and those have come by an average margin of 36 points. However, they haven't faced the most grueling schedule by any means. Friday night, the Charter Cup will be on the line, when Health Sciences looks to avenge its only charter loss this season against Tapestry.