The second season begins Friday for the Jamestown Red Raiders when they play host to the Hutch Tech Engineers in a Section 6 Class AA quarterfinal game at Strider Field at 7 p.m.
On paper it appears to be a mismatch. Jamestown is the Class AA South champion with a 6-1 record and is ranked 10th in the state and No. 3 in Western New York. In contrast, Hutch Tech finished fourth in Class AA North with a 1-6 record and the victory came over winless Riverside.
Jamestown coach Tom Langworthy isn't looking at his opponents' record and he doesn't want his players to either.
Zack Panebianco will be one of the playmakers on both sides of the ball when the Jamestown Red Raiders meet Hutch Tech at 7 p.m., Friday at Strider Field.
P-J photo by Jim Riggs
''They're a playoff football team, they're in the state tournament right now, let's not forget that,'' he said about Hutch Tech. ''Their record now is 0-0, same as ours.''
He added, ''I've been looking at their scores and they haven't been blown out by anybody which shows me that they hang in there and they make plays.''
Hutch Tech opened with a 15-14 loss to Iroquois followed by a 21-14 loss to Kenmore West, a team the Red Raiders defeated, 27-8. They also fell to Class AA North champion Lockport, 38-8; to Grand Island, 24-6; to Niagara Falls, 21-6 (which lost to JHS, 35-7); and to Pioneer, 35-18.
The Engineers' win over Riverside was by a 28-8 margin after they trailed 8-0. They were led by tailback Roman West, who rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
They won that game with back-up quarterback Zack Filipski playing in place of Lenny Dowell, who was injured.
Dowell was in action last week and Langworthy doesn't know who will be calling signals on Friday.
But it doesn't matter who is at quarterback or if the opponent is Hutch Tech or defending state champion Orchard Park. Langworthy is more concerned about his Red Raiders.
''I'm going to find out a lot about our team this week,'' he said. ''I'll be interested to see how we come out and play in the first quarter. The message we're going to send this week is that we need to start fast. When that first whistle blows with 12 minutes left in the first quarter, we have to be at full intensity. I think we've lacked that. We lacked that on Saturday and I'm upset by that.''
Last Saturday at Clarence, Jamestown was playing for the division championship and an opening playoff game at home. With a loss the Red Raiders would have finished in fourth place and would have faced a road game. But with all that on the line, Jamestown came out flat and Clarence scored on its first drive.
The Red Raiders tied the game, 7-7, midway through the second quarter, but within 20 seconds Clarence regained the lead with a long touchdown pass.
After going three-and-out to open the second half, the Red Raiders watched Clarence increase its lead to 21-7. Then Jamestown scored 20 unanswered points in the third quarter to pull out a 27-21 win.
''I'm happy we can explode with points, but what I'm not happy with is that it takes us a while to get warmed up,'' Langworthy said. ''There's no excuse for that. That's completely inexcusable.''
And definitely in the postseason.
''When you get into the playoffs and you start playing at your highest level in the second or third quarter, it's a real dangerous thing and that's not where we want to be,'' he said. ''We're going to preach it all week and we're going to see what happens in that first quarter on Friday night and I think it will show a lot about our team.''
He added, ''The focus this week is coming out ready to play at 7 o'clock. Not 7:10, not 7:25. At 7 o'clock we've got be ready to play and if we're not ready to play at 7, I'm not sure how long our playoff run is going to last because you have to play four quarters of football to win playoff games.''
He added, ''That first four to six minutes of the game I think is crucial to setting the tone and establishing who's the more dominant team.''
The Red Raiders will be prepared for anything from the Engineers, who come into the game with everything to gain and nothing to lose.
''They're coming here not to lose, they're coming here with the intentions of beating us,'' Langworthy said.''You've got expect they're going to be pulling out all the stops to beat us.''
So if Hutch Tech kicks off to open the game, the Red Raiders won't be surprised to see the Engineers attempt an onsides kick. Or, later in the game, there could be fake punts and who knows what else.
''This is the time of year when you have to make things happen,'' Langworthy said. ''I think they realize that coming down here is a challenge and they're going to try to overcome that in any way possible.''
Hutch Tech doesn't have to be prepared for too many surprises from Jamestown, mainly just offense in many forms. Running back Da'Quan Hollingsworth came into last week's game with five straight 100-plus yards games, but was held to only 68, so the Red Raiders went to the air and quarterback Jake Sisson responded with his best game of the season. He completed 20 of 34 passed for 327 yards and four touchdowns. And the passes were spread around to four receivers with Zack Panebianco leading the way with seven catches for 155 yards and three touchdowns.
But Langworthy sees room for improvement.
''Offensively, I'd like to see us score some more points,'' he said.
He added, ''Defensively we've got some work to do. Tackling we can certainly get better at, our coverage can get better and we can get better up front.''
Clarence completed two touchdown passes of 67 and 59 yards last week when the receiver got open behind the Jamestown secondary.
Langworthy knows something for sure.
''Between Hutch Tech and Jamestown, someone's going to be handing in their equipment next Monday,'' he said.
And he not expecting it to be his Red Raiders.
''For these seniors the next loss is the last loss,'' he said. ''It's important that we go out and play Jamestown Red Raider football throughout the playoffs.''
NOTES: All spectators attending this weekend's Section 6 quarterfinal games will be charged a $4 admission fee as set by the section