The once-a-week nightly practice complete, Southwestern football coach Jay Sirianni left Charles A. Lawson Field with one more item remaining on his Wednesday evening to-do list.
"I have to watch the presidential debate,'' he said.
As a social studies teacher at the school, Sirianni assigned his advanced-placement students to do the same and today they'll discuss, in class, the performances of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
By Friday night, Sirianni and his Cassadaga Valley counterpart, Nick Spitzer, will be grading the efforts of their respective teams following their Class C South game, but there will be no debating its importance.
The winner advances to the Section 6 Class C playoffs and puts an exclamation point on a regular season that hasn't met the expectations of either team. The loser, meanwhile, can only look forward to a bowl berth.
''It's do or die,'' Sirianni said. ''Cassadaga Valley is playing for the same thing we are. The two teams are playing for their postseason.''
The Trojans enter the game 2-3 overall and 2-2 in the league, while the Cougars are 2-3 and 1-3.
''We talked during practice the importance of the game,'' Spitzer said. ''Obviously, we haven't had the season we've wanted to either, but I feel like we're progressing week by week in what we're trying to accomplish.''
Cassadaga Valley, which is coming off an 18-0 loss to Westfield last week, will have running back J.B. Boughton back in the lineup after he missed two games with an ankle injury.
''It's huge for us (having Boughton back),'' Spitzer said.
The Trojans, meanwhile, have ridden a figurative roller coaster in the last month. They blanked Falconer, 24-0, in the opener; went nine quarters without a touchdown in losses to Westfield and Olean; edged Salamanca, 47-46 in an epic overtime game two weeks ago; and lost to Allegany-Limestone, 34-13, last week.
''When you're winning, things seem to just fall into place,'' Sirianni said. ''When you're losing, it really tests your resolve and character. Our focus has been to just continue to try and do the right thing.''
Getting past Cassadaga Valley figures to be a challenge.
''Their kids are tough,'' Sirianni said. ''Boughton is a good player. ... Defensively, they're very stingy, they're very aggressive and they're just a bunch of tough kids.
''If we stay focused and if we can get into the playoffs, I think we pose a threat to teams. We definitely have playoff experience. Hopefully, we can use it this year. We'll see how it comes out Friday night.''