The fall sports season may be long gone for our area schools, with athletes moving on to start winter practices in basketball or wrestling last week. But there’s still some big games to pay attention to involving the teams they played this season.
After an undefeated regular season, the Franklinville/Ellicottville football team surely had higher aspirations than a return to the Section 6 Class D championship game, where it played a fourth straight time but could not win a second sectional title. Instead, the team the Titans played, Maple Grove, flashed some dominance in the Far West Regional with a 61-28 victory over Clyde/Savannah. With one more win, the Red Dragons can made a second straight NYSPHSAA final appearance at the Carrier Dome. This week, they play Section 4’s Tioga, which won the 2015 state title after making three straight semifinals against the three-peat Randolph teams of 2012-14.
The Red Dragons were only part of a dominant weekend for Western New York, as Section 6 won all five regionals at SUNY Brockport between Lancaster (AA), West Seneca West (Class A), Cheektowaga (Class B) and Cleveland Hill (Class C).
If Maple Grove can go all the way, it may not be much consolation, but F/E fans may have a claim that the Section 6 championship was in effect a state championship game.
“I know what our team is and I felt like we were and Maple Grove matched it,” F/E coach Chad Bartoszek said after the Section 6 final. “They’re going to go on a little run here, (but) it doesn’t make it any better.”
Meanwhile, I had a front-row look at another triumph for Section 6 and the Southern Tier, covering Allegany-Limestone’s NYSPHSAA Class C girls soccer semifinal and final victories for the Olean Times Herald. The Gators played an outstanding regular season — 15-1 with only an overtime loss to Class A Pioneer — and no team in their CCAA East I division came very close this year. Still, A-L had to beat expectations set by the state rankings each week of the playoffs, with the final victory, 3-2 over Stillwater on Sunday coming at the expense of the No. 1 Class C team at the time.
Surely, even though the Gators lose six senior starters, they won’t be overlooked next season after this postseason performance.
Portville volleyball has a chance to deliver the Big 30’s second state championship of the season this weekend after making the Class C final four in Glens Falls.
Like A-L girls soccer coach Dale MacArthur, Portville volleyball coach Kelly Unverdorben consistently has her teams at the top of the division and playing for a sectional title or better. The 2017 Panthers ended a run of eight straight state championships for Eden by winning the Section 6 Class C crossover round. Portville has three state championships, in 2015, ‘14 and ‘08, but this would be its first since bumping up to from D to C.
Clearly, the schools in our area face some high-level talent and coaching in multiple sports in their leagues, and Maple Grove football, Portville volleyball and Allegany-Limestone girls soccer are perhaps the best examples if that.
(Salamanca Press sports editor Sam Wilson may be contacted at email@example.com)