Clarence is Western New York's high school sports champion

June 5, 2013 Updated Jun 5, 2013 at 7:52 AM EDT

By G. Scott Thomas, Projects Editor- Business First


Clarence is Western New York's high school sports champion

June 5, 2013 Updated Jun 5, 2013 at 7:52 AM EDT

Clarence Senior High School possesses a unique combination of intellectual skill and athletic prowess.

The former is the reason for Clarence's impressive showings in Business First's yearly academic rankings.

The latter is the driving force behind the Red Devils' 22 sectional championships in team sports during the past four years. That's nine titles more than any other public high school in Western New York.

Clarence, as a result, once again holds first place in Business First's annual breakdown of high school sports programs throughout the eight-county region. It has been No. 1 since 2010.

This year's runners-up are the East Aurora Blue Devils and Hamburg Bulldogs, who are tied for second place, followed by the No. 4 Fredonia Hillbillies and No. 5 Orchard Park Quakers.

Business First has tabulated the sectional champions in 18 team sports from spring 2009 through winter 2013. (That span was chosen because championship games for 2013's spring sports had not been played as of presstime for the Guide to Western New York Schools.)

The study encompasses all high schools in Section VI, as well as the Western New York portion of Section V.

Section VI covers Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties, along with part of Orleans County. Section V includes the remainder of Orleans, plus all of Allegany, Genesee and Wyoming counties. (Section VI is restricted to public schools. Section V admits private schools as members.)

Clarence's 22 championships translate to 54 rating points, based on a sliding scale that awards four points for each title in the most recent year (spring 2012 to winter 2013), down to a single point for similar victories in the most distant year (spring 2009 to winter 2010).

East Aurora and Hamburg, which have both taken 12 sectional championships since 2009, have 31 points apiece. Then come Fredonia and Orchard Park with 29 points each. The Hillbillies are ranked ahead of the Quakers because of Fredonia's 13-9 edge in championships.

Six of the sports included in the study (basketball, bowling, cross country, lacrosse, soccer and volleyball) actually count twice, since they're played by both boys and girls. The rankings also include baseball, football and wrestling by boys, field hockey and softball by girls, and rifle by coed teams.

Excluded are sports that crown individual champions but don't award team titles, such as golf, tennis and track and field.

Sections VI and V divide schools into a variety of enrollment-based classifications. Groupings vary from sport to sport. Basketball and soccer, for example, are broken into five classes (AA, A, B, C and D), while boys volleyball is split into just two (A and B).

Winners in all classifications are given equal credit, resulting in a mixture of big and small schools in the upper echelon of this year's rankings.

Rounding out the top 10 behind Clarence, East Aurora, Hamburg, Fredonia and Orchard Park are five schools that have won 10 or 11 sectional titles apiece since 2009. Ranked sixth through 10th, respectively, are the Alden Bulldogs, Silver Creek Black Knights, Grand Island Vikings, Williamsville North Spartans and Frewsburg Bears.

Business First also has broken the overall standings into five lists with tighter focuses:

Boys programs: Boys have accounted for 14 sectional titles in Clarence the past four years, winning nearly two-thirds of the Red Devils' total of 22 championships. Clarence's boys teams have earned 34 rating points since 2009, putting them comfortably ahead of Silver Creek (22), East Aurora (20) and Orchard Park (18).

Girls programs: Girls are mainly responsible for Williamsville North's strong showing in the overall standings. They've won nine of the Spartans' 11 titles in four years. Williamsville North's girls teams have earned 21 points, edging past Hamburg's 20, Clarence's 17 and Notre Dame's 16.

Fall sports: Clarence is the leader in the fall, picking up 12 titles and 28 points. East Aurora, which also has 28 points, is a step behind with 11 championships. This category includes cross country, field hockey, football, soccer and volleyball.

Winter sports: Olean is the top-rated school in the winter, with six championships and 16 points since 2009. The runners-up are Grand Island and Silver Creek, both with 14 points. Basketball, bowling, rifle and wrestling are the sports in this category.

Spring sports: Hamburg has a narrow lead in spring sports, which include baseball, lacrosse and softball. The Bulldogs have earned 18 points the past four springs, just ahead of Frewsburg's 17 and Clarence's 15.

Business First's sports rankings cover almost all of the high schools in Western New York, but they're not totally comprehensive. Missing are private high schools in Cattaraugus, Erie and Niagara counties, which are excluded from Section VI.

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