By Jim Riggs,
The 2013 Jamestown High School football season ended on Nov. 16 with a loss to Aquinas in the Class AA Far West Regionals. But it didn't take long for the Red Raiders to start preparing for the 2014 season.
A meeting was held in the first week of January and in the second week the team began weightlifting. In mid-February the Red Raiders took part in a passing league at the Buffalo Bills' field house. Next came matchups with the Maple Grove-Chautauqua Lake and Southwestern teams. Then there was a passing league at Strider Field in June with workouts and weightlifting thrown in between. This week was a conditioning camp and then official practice begins on Monday.
It sounds like Jamestown coach Tom Langworthy must feel well prepared to begin practice next week. However, he didn't feel quite as prepared when he became the head coach in 2008.
Langworthy was named the Red Raiders' 31st head coach on Thursday, Aug. 14, and practice began on Monday, Aug. 17. And the first football game was only 22 days away. So he had three days to prepare for the first practice after being named the new head coach.
''It was definitely a quick transition,'' Langworthy said. ''Looking back on it seven years ago, it was a pretty unbelievable two or three weeks of getting your feet on the ground. Fortunately, our guys were already lifting in the summertime in the usual program we'd been doing.''
Langworthy was a junior varsity assistant coach and it was a week before official practice started when the players began to figure things out.
''We were actually in conditioning camp when one day the players noticed I was doing more of the talking than anyone else and I think they came to the conclusion that I was going to be the head coach even though it was something that was not public knowledge yet because the board of education had not voted on it,'' Langworthy said. ''I remember some of the kids saying, 'You're going to be the next head coach?' and I'd say, 'We'll see.'''
A few days later he was named the head coach. And not just any head coach. Langworthy would be leading a Class AA team with a storied past which includes three state championships. And he was only 27.
Did all that concern Langworthy?
''It was one of those things, that was the hand I was dealt and I felt fortunate to be dealt that hand,'' Langworthy said. ''So you just roll with it and do the best you can in the situation that you are in.''
He added, ''I thought it was a great challenge for somebody as young as me to be in that position. I felt that I was well prepared for it, as much as I could have been being in that position. I'd always taken pride in preparation as a coach and I had a good relationship with the other coaches on staff. And being a jayvee coach at the time, I knew the kids.''
Would he like to try it again?
''No, once is enough,'' Langworthy said. ''It's nice to have a full offseason and be able to look at your personnel and know what you're going to be good at and try to tailor your offense and defense and special teams on those things.''
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What made the quick start in 2008 go smoothly was that the entire staff of assistant coaches from the previous years, Dave Munella, Ryan Calkins and Rich Joly, returned.
''That's truly been a fortunate thing over the years because those guys were already on the varsity when I took over, so the dynamic was kind of like we were all doing it together,'' Langworthy said. ''It wasn't like even though I had the final say and I had the authority as the head coach, we were all in the situation together so we were working as one.''
He added, ''That's been the model for our coaching staff because that's the way it was early on and it's worked for us.''
The Red Raiders didn't start off with a bang under Langworthy, but a 4-5 record in 2008 was a lot better than 1-7 in 2007.
''The first season we won a couple (of important) games,'' Langworthy said. ''We won at Frontier where we were big underdogs and we won up at Clarence when we were down in the second half. Those wins proved to us that we could win in the league and against the odds. That was big for us and the coaching staff to get that confidence, and it was big for the players.''
He added, ''But those were kind of moments in 2008. We didn't really put together the continuity.''
Jamestown was 3-6 in 2009, but it was the following season that was the key.
''In 2010, that was the turning point right there because we had four straight shutouts, so we were dominant,'' Langworthy said ''And then we had our playoff win up at Riverside. We won, 7-6, and we were 5-4. So we ended the season with a playoff game for the first time in 10 years. So we had a lot of positive things and put together a good, solid season. I always said that 2010 team seemed like was when we turned the corner. And it really was because the next two years we were 8-2 and last year we were 10-1.''
And those 8-2 seasons led to the first trips to the Section 6 Class AA championship game since 2000. And last year the Red Raiders won their first sectional title in 13 years.
So despite a rather quick start to his head coaching career, the result has been successful for Langworthy. And he's also had success off the field.
Right after his hiring was approved in 2008, school board member Joe DiMaio made an observation. After being a JHS assistant coach for 20 years, he knew all about the time involved. He said, ''I hope at the end of the season his girlfriend is still his girlfriend.''
Langworthy's girlfriend was Amy, who later became his fiancee and is now his wife. And she is also the mother of their two sons.
Langworthy has been enjoying wins on and off the field.