By Scott Kindberg
ORCHARD PARK - Some notes gleaned while touring the artificial turf at Ralph Wilson Stadium during Section 6 Media Day on Tuesday morning:
Jamestown High School quarterback Jake Sisson takes his turn snapping the ball to teammate Dylan Anthony during Section 6 Media Day at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Tuesday. Inset are the area head football coaches who will lead their teams into sectional championship games this weekend. From the left are Jamestown’s Tom Langworthy, Class AA; Maple Grove/Chautauqua Lake’s Curt Fischer and Randolph’s Brent Brown, Class D; and Frewsburg’s Terry Gray and Cattaraugus-Little Valley’s Tim Miller, Class DD. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photos by Jim Riggs
Dick Gallagher has walked more than a few sidelines and wedged his way into countless press boxes spanning many decades, but the editor & publisher of Western New York High School Sports didn't mince any words in describing the Jamestown Red Raiders' offense, which is averaging 55 points per game this season.
''The only offense I've seen that was similar was Maple Grove in 2008,'' Gallagher said. ''When you take into consideration the caliber of competition that the Red Raiders have had to face, by far it is the best I've seen.''
The Red Raiders will meet Frontier at 7 p.m., Saturday for the Class AA crown.
''Whoever is devising the offensive schemes, they're throwing in different wrinkles every week and it makes it more difficult for the opponents. Jake Sisson is playing at a level that reminds me of (Seattle Seahawks quarterback) Russell Wilson. You look at his size, you look at what his capabilities are and what he's accomplishing, it's just off the chart.''
For his part, Sisson has completed 137 of 203 passes for 2,469 yards and 30 touchdowns. He's also run for 19, making him one of the top dual threats in WNY history. His receiving corps includes Stephen Carlson (840 yards on 45 catches); Zack Panebianco (808/40), Ben Larson (367/23) and Brian Park (359/18). Park is the only senior in that group.
See MEDIA DAY, Page B2
From Page B1
''If anyone would have predicted this at the start of the season, I would have said you have to take your medication,'' Gallagher said. ''After you witness a few games, it's just a fantastic experience. I'm looking forward to see what they do with Frontier on Saturday.''
The Red Raiders, who have scored exactly 500 points in nine games, will be making their third straight appearance in the sectional final and the 17th overall. Their last victory at ''The Ralph'' was in 2000.
The Randolph Cardinals, the owners of three state championships, including last year, are Gallagher's pick to be celebrating at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse later this month.
''I think the Cardinal machine is rolling and will roll to another state championship,'' he predicted.
If Gallagher is correct, Randolph will be the first team in WNY with four state crowns.
''You're blessed,'' he said. ''I don't know what's in the water (in the Southern Tier), but whatever it is keep feeding them the same water.''
Randolph, which will meet Maple Grove/Chautauqua Lake at 6 p.m., Friday, is the owner of a 19-game winning streak and is ranked No. 1 in the state Class D poll. Senior running back Chris Doubek has rushed for 1,782 yards and scored 28 touchdowns, behind the blocking of fullback Lucas Brown and a huge offensive line comprised of Cody Oldro (6-foot-3, 250 pounds), Michael Bowers (6-3, 275), Wesley Senn (6-1, 220), Jeff Andrews (6-2, 245), Pat Kibbe (6-2, 265) and Bryce Morrison (6-1, 180).
The game between Randolph and Maple Grove/Chautauqua Lake really requires no introduction.
Just ask Cardinals' coach Brent Brown.
''You mark this on your calendar and hope it comes true,'' he said. '' ... It means something to the kids, it means something to the community. I know our kids, when we go to play (Maple Grove/Chautauqua Lake), the butterflies start going in their stomachs and everything, but you get a good week of practice. It's good, it's fun.''
Added Thunder Dragons coach Curt Fischer: ''I think we've both made each other's programs better over the years. We've pushed each other to the limit for how long?''
At the Ralph, Maple Grove is 5-9 while Randolph is 8-5, including a 21-0 win over its fiercest rival last year.
Fischer said the players are having a ''great time and adapted very well'' to the merger of the two football programs earlier this year.
''(Chautauqua Lake athletic director) Josh Liddell has been awesome about the whole thing and, at our school, (athletic director) Kathy Burnett has done a great job. Josh has done a lot of good things to try and get this going. ... I think it's because he saw the future, and the numbers in football, period, are going down.''
Even though the Cardinals are riding a 19-game winning streak and defeated Maple Grove/Chautauqua Lake, 35-7, in the regular season, Brown is expecting a tight game Friday night.
''These games get tougher now,'' he said. ''Everybody has film now. This will be tight, both defenses play well. ... Our kids haven't had to gut one out.''
In nine games, Randolph has outscored its opponents, 390-72.
Fredonia coach Mike Marshall couldn't stop gushing about his tailback, junior Matt McCarthy, who rushed for 316 yards and seven touchdowns in last Saturday's win, 72-42, victory over Akron.
''He's got the breakaway speed, the quickness to go around people and the strength to go through people,'' he said. ''I think he shows that basically every game he plays. He will definitely be a key, but the supporting actors are who really make this team.''
Entering Saturday's 1 p.m., game against Cleveland Hill, McCarthy has gained 1,386 yards and scored 27 touchdowns.
Frewsburg coach Terry Gray wasn't particularly thrilled when the Bears were dropped from Class D to Class DD this season, but he has changed his tune a bit after the Bears earned a berth in the Class DD title game at 10 a.m., Saturday against Cattaraugus-Little Valley.
''Things turned out the best they could turn out,'' he said. ''We knew we had seniors and some sophomores and freshmen and our sophomores were 14. When they moved us down they were trying to bridge that gap of getting those sophomores old enough and big enough to be safe and sustainable.
''At the end of it all, we stayed healthy enough and persevered through some things and here we are. ... What a great group of seniors and kids to work with. There's been no adversity and no trouble in the locker room. We don't have a top-tier, one phenomenal athlete. We just have a bunch of blue-collar, hard-working kids who represent our town and district, and that's been a lot of fun.''
Speaking of fun, area fans might want to keep an eye on Jamestown's Zack Panebianco on Saturday night.
Check out Gallagher's take on the junior all-purpose Red Raider:
''When you look at his size, he looks like a choir boy or altar boy, but yet he has the intensity, he has the instinct and he just makes it happen on the basketball court and on the football field. Not only that, he's a quiet leader, who just leads by example. He's like a blue-collar worker.''
Noted Langworthy: ''He doesn't care about credit or stats. He's selfless and cares about the team and extending our season. That's hat makes him so special.''
Asked to describe Sisson, his quarterback, in one word, Langworthy immediately said: ''Awesome.''
Then he kept going.
''Maybe 'unbelievable, 'but I can believe, because I've seen it. What makes me really proud, I think, is back in January we started our weight room and you know how cold and dark it is at 6 in the morning? He was there. February and March (roll around) and baseball starts and he's still there.
''He goes out (on the football field) and gets a lot of credit, but there's no media at 6 in the morning in the winter time and he's still there. His teammates know he was there and I know he was there.''