BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — One final slate of games is on tap before football sectional playoffs begin around Western New York.
From a handful of matchups with postseason seeding implications, as well as some of the area’s best rivalries writing a new chapter, there are ample games to keep an eye on this week. Playoff seedings and brackets will be finalized on Sunday.
Here are four games to watch, as well as some historic rivalry games to conclude the regular season. To see the full schedule of Week 8 games, click here.
South Park (5-2) at Health Sciences (6-1)
7 p.m. Friday at Buffalo State
The Class B bracket will largely be shaped by the result of this matchup between the Sparks and Falcons. With a win, South Park could rise as high as the No. 5 seed and drop Health Sciences to the No. 7 or 8 seed. Conversely, a Health Sciences win gives them a B1 division title as well as the No. 3 seed, while South Park would have to settle for No. 7 or 8. Beyond the postseason noteworthiness, some history could also be made: Sparks quarterback Noah Willoughby is 286 yards away from breaking the Section VI all-time passing yards record (6,671), currently held by Will South alum Joe Licata.
St. Francis (2-5) at Canisius (3-4)
7 p.m. Saturday
Two of Western New York’s premier football programs square off with the Monsignor Martin regular season title up for grabs. The Red Raiders have won four straight against the Crusaders, but Canisius did not have freshman running back Elijah Kimble for any of those tilts. Kimble, who recently picked up an offer from Penn State, is averaging 151.3 rushing yards per game and has totaled 11 touchdowns on the year. St. Francis boasts a talented running back of their own in senior Terrence Pendergrass, who leads the Red Raiders with 773 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground and also ranks second on the squad with 13 receptions.
Clymer/Sherman/Panama (7-0) at Franklinville/Ellicottville (7-0)
7 p.m. Friday
This isn’t just a battle between two of the top Class D schools in Section VI, but rather two of New York State’s best, with the winner earning the No. 1 seed in the sectional playoffs. CSP (No. 2 in NYS) has looked nothing short of dominant, boasting a staggering +239 point differential entering Week 8 largely thanks to the dynamic duo of quarterback Tate Catanese and receiver Bryce Hinsdale. Meanwhile, F/E (No. 4 in NYS) has looked dominant in its own right with a +194 point differential. Running back Hunter Smith has carried much of the load offensively with 947 yards and eight touchdowns this season. The senior also leads his team in tackles.
Williamsville North (4-3) at Lockport (4-3)
2 p.m. Saturday
McKinley will be watching this matchup with great interest as their postseason fate is in the hands of the Spartans, who already clinched a berth when Clarence defeated the Macks on Thursday. A Will North win earns them the No. 3 seed in A1 and sneaks McKinley in as the No. 4 seed. For Lockport, this Week 8 matchup is basically a postseason game: with a victory, they reach the playoffs as the No. 2 seed while a loss eliminates them.
The series may be “4 Games to Watch,” but sometimes there needs to be an exception in a week chock-full of historic rivalry games.
Depew (6-1) at Lancaster (6-1): The century-old rivalry between the Legends and Wildcats gets another chapter written at 7 p.m. Friday in what should be a dandy. Lancaster leads the all-time series 55-32-6.
North Tonawanda (1-6) at Tonawanda (2-5): The iconic T-NT game, the oldest rivalry in Western New York, kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday. After Tonawanda ended an 18-game losing streak to NT with a 2019 victory, the Lumberjacks have won the past three meetings.
Albion (2-5) at Medina (7-0): The Mustangs have Class C sectional champion dreams this season, but they first have to square off with the Purple Eagles in a rivalry game that dates back to 1920. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. Friday.
Fredonia (3-4) at Dunkirk (3-4): While the year didn’t go ideally for either team, one can take solace in a rivalry victory to close the regular season. The Marauders lead the all-time series 65-53-11, and the 2023 edition is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday.
Kenmore East (3-4) at Kenmore West (1-6): The crosstown rivals square off at 2 p.m. Saturday as the Bulldogs look to snap a three-game losing streak against the Blue Devils.
West Seneca West (4-3) at West Seneca East (2-5): Another crosstown rivalry pits the Warhawks against the Trojans, with kickoff slated for 7 p.m. Friday.