Raiders’ Playoff Opener Same As Season Opener

The Jamestown Red Raiders will open the postseason against the same team they faced to open the regular season.

It was on Sept. 6 at Strider Field when Jamestown took on the Niagara Falls Wolverines and rolled to a 52-14 Class AA victory in the season opener. Tonight at 7 at Strider Field, the teams meet again in the Section 6 Class AA quarterfinals.

“It feels like it was a long time ago because there’s been so many other games in between, but seven weeks isn’t that long ago,” Jamestown coach Tom Langworthy said. ”A lot happened in seven weeks. From your first week to your second game is a big jump. So from our first week to our eighth week there’s been a lot that’s changed.”

One thing that didn’t change for the Red Raiders is their record. They went a perfect 7-0 in the regular season and come into the Class AA playoffs as the No. 1 seed while Niagara Falls was 1-6 and is the eighth seed.

That opening win over the Wolverines was a sign of things to come for Jamestown. The 52 points was the start of the Red Raiders scoring 50 or more in their next five games. But that changed last week.

“As the games go on they’ll get harder and harder,” Langworthy said. ”The main goal is score one more point than the other team.”

And that’s what Jamestown did last week with a 42-41 victory over Orchard Park to claim their first outright Class AA title in 13 years.

“Coming off of that win, we were really proud of that, but there’s other goals that are bigger than that we want to accomplish,” Langworthy said. “It was a great win. There was a lot of adversity there that we had to overcome and we did it. It was a great accomplishment, but there are other accomplishments that we want to make. We want to be playing late into November.”

The last two Jamestown seasons ended with a 9-1 record with a loss to Orchard Park in the Section 6 Class AA championship game at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

“This is the time of year when it’s hard to believe, but the next time you lose is the last time,” Langworthy said.

The Red Raiders had chances to lose in last week’s ”instant classic” game. There is some concern about giving up 41 points, but the defense came through when it stopped the Quakers with 27.8 seconds left on a two-point run attempt to win the game.

Langworthy noted some earlier defensive turning points.

“I think in the fourth quarter things started happening fast and furious and Orchard Park started making plays that they hadn’t previously made,” he said about the finish. ”But our defense also made two (other) critical stops. One at the end of the first half down in their end. And another one when we fumbled the kickoff and we held. Those are two huge stops.”

The Jamestown offense was again flying high in the passing department as quarterback Jake Sisson completed 28-of-41 passes for 444 yards and three touchdowns. And once again the offensive line’s pass blocking allowed him plenty of time.

Sisson, who has passed for 2,015 yards and 23 touchdowns, has been sacked only once all season and that was in the opening game on a broken play.

“Our line in pass protection has blocked fantastic,” Langworthy said.

He also noted that Sisson’s scrambling ability has helped him avoid sacks.

“He helps the line and the line helps him and that’s the way it should be,” Sisson said.

In the opening game against Niagara Falls, running back Da’Quon Hollingsworth rushed for 113 yard and three touchdowns. But since then the running game has struggled and last week Hollingsworth had only 20 yards on 10 carries.

“I think sometimes he looks for the big 70-yard run instead of the seven-yard run,” Langworthy said about Hollingsworth’s tendency to hesitate instead of simply hitting a hole. “This week we’re making adjustments. We’re moving some guys around, putting in some schemes to try to get the run game going because we do know we need to be more balanced if we’re going to make a deep run into the playoffs.”

A key to Jamestown’s season-opening win over Niagara Falls was that the Wolverines had to start almost every series after a Jamestown touchdown from their own 20 because Quinn Lee Yaw booted seven kickoffs into the end zone. However, Lee Yaw played in only one more game before injuries from soccer sidelined him.

Lee Yaw’s kickoffs could have been a huge weapon last week to keep the Orchard Park offense stymied with poor drive starts.

“Quinn will be back kicking for us this week,” Langworthy said. ”That defensively gives us a boost, gives us a ton of field position. That really creates a short field if we can get a three-and-out after a kickoff.”

And he hopes his Red Raiders will be kicking off a lot tonight after touchdowns.

The winner of tonight’s game will play the winner of Saturday’s quarterfinal game between fifth-seeded Lancaster (4-3) and fourth-seeded Kenmore West (5-2).

In the regular season, Jamestown defeated Lancaster, 58-20, and outlasted Kenmore West, 50-28.