It may be nearing the end of the Northeastern Football Alliance regular season, but as far as the Jamestown Chiefs are concerned, the end signals the beginning of something much more.
Call it the dawn of a new era.
"It's new ownership, new attitude and fresh blood," newly-minted Chiefs owner, and quarterback, Dawayne Vanderwork said.
Vanderwork, a standout fullback for the Jamestown Red Raiders in the late 1980s and early 1990s under coach Wally Huckno, took control of the semi-professional football club almost three weeks ago and since then has been working around the clock to repair the organization's ever-deteriorating reputation throughout the community.
First among the many chores for the new owner was getting his club on the right footing financially and remedying perhaps the biggest issue amongst both players and fans - the Jamestown Chiefs playing so-called "home games" not in Jamestown, but Olean.
Members of the team had grown impatient with the situation and that prompted Vanderwork to discuss with the previous owner what could be done to get the team back to Strider Field.
"We're not the Jamestown Chiefs if we're playing all our games in Olean," he said, "and some of the guys were getting upset about that. I wanted to play at Strider. I played there 20 years ago (with the Red Raiders) and wanted to get back. So I went (to the previous owner) and said, 'What can we do?'
A deal was soon struck that said if Vanderwork, who has played semi-pro football for the past 13 years, could raise the money to play at Strider Field, he could take over the team.
And he has done just that.
The Chiefs (4-5) will play their final home game of the season on Saturday at 5:30 p.m., against Lyndonville (7-1-1) at Strider Field.
The move, Vanderwork hopes, will go a long way towards rebuilding and repairing ties with the local fanbase.
"The goal (this year) is just trying to get rid of the team's bad name," he said, "and to let people know that the team is under new ownership and that we're trying to turn things around."
While the task may seem daunting, Vanderwork has the experience. He was a part owner for five years of the Fort Worth Avengers, a semi-pro football team in the Texas United Football League. During his tenure, the squad won a TUFL championship in 2009.
"I know how to run a team and I know how to get things organized," Vanderwork said.
The biggest issue going forward, as it was for the previous owner, will be earning enough money to keep things going. And while the Chiefs don't have the local resources that the Avengers did (in Texas Vanderwork and teammates were able to fund raise and work at, among others, Dallas Maverick and Dallas Cowboy games) his plan (at least for now) is simple - get more people to come to games.
"We all do this for the love of the game," he said. "We have full-time jobs and practice two nights a week and just want to play in front of a hometown crowd. I'm not trying to make a million dollars, I just want to bring football back to Jamestown and I want to get people to come out and watch."
Tickets for Saturday's game will be $5.