It's very clear what's on the line on Saturday when the Jamestown Red Raiders play at Clarence in a Class AA South game at 2 p.m.
If Jamestown wins, it claims the Class AA South title and will play host to a home game in the quarterfinals of the Section 6 playoffs.
If the Red Raiders lose, they finish fourth in Class AA South and will open the playoffs on the road at the field of the Class AA North champion.
Jamestown football coach Tom Langworthy addresses his team after last week’s victory over Orchard Park. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J?photo by Jim Riggs
''Our motivation factor is very clear,'' Jamestown coach Tom Langworthy said. ''We have a league championship on the line Saturday. The kids know, they've known it since (last) Saturday morning. It's an opportunity that doesn't necessarily come around every year, so we've got to make sure we take advantage of it by doing all the right things and having a sense of urgency in preparation.''
Currently, Orchard Park leads Class AA South with a 4-1 record and is 5-1 overall. Jamestown is second at 3-1 (5-1 overall) and Frontier and Clarence are tied for third at 3-2. And Jamestown and Clarence are only teams with division games left.
A Red Raiders' win at Clarence ties them with Orchard Park, but they would be declared Class AA South champions because they defeated the Quakers.
And the same tie-breaker comes up with a Jamestown loss. That would tie the Red Raiders with Frontier and Clarence for second place at 3-2. And because Jamestown would have lost to both Frontier and Clarence, the Red Raiders would be fourth.
So it's first place or fourth place and no in between.
First place means a home playoff game, but it means more than that, according to Langworthy.
''We understand we have a home game riding on this game, but what matters to me is it's important that these kids are called champions,'' he said. ''They'll be able to be called champions with a win and they've worked hard enough that they deserve to be called champions. I want that to happen and no one's ever going to be able to take that away from them.''
He added, ''I think AA South is probably one of the most competitive leagues in the state. For these kids to be able to say in 2012 we were league champs, that's important to us, that's important to me. We've earned the opportunity to play for the championship and now we need to take advantage of that opportunity.''
It would be Jamestown's first division title since 2000, when it also won a state championship. But that's ancient history to the 2012 Red Raiders.
''A couple of weeks ago Michael Watson stood up at our team dinner and said, 'We are proud of our past, but I want to make my own story,''' Langworthy said. ''I think the kids really rallied around that point. Saturday is a huge piece of the story.''
A huge piece of the 2012 story was last week's win over defending state champion Orchard Park. It not only knocked the Quakers out of the No. 1 spot in the state, but it also ended their winning streak at 18. But that victory won't mean too much if the Red Raiders don't win today and that was made clear to the team less than 12 hours after the victory.
''At 8:30 on Saturday morning we watched films and the first thing we said was great win, let's use the confidence in the coming weeks, but let's leave it there,'' Langworthy said about the Orchard Park game.
What made the Quakers impressive in last week's game is they lost their starting quarterback to an injury late in the first half and their backup quarterback came off the bench and led them to 21 points in the 35-28 loss.
Clarence lost its starting quarterback, Mark Armstrong, in the second game of the season and since them the Red Devils have been fine with junior Lex Oakes at the controls.
''I think their other quarterback has really gotten better,'' Langworthy said. ''We've been able to see the last three games and he's gotten much better in those last three games. This kid's got four games under his belt. They're 4-2 and they've won three games back-to-back-to-back with a backup quarterback. That tells you a lot about the quarterback and the coaching.''
And the quarterback position is important for Clarence because they are not primarily a running team.
''They do both,'' Langworthy said about the Red Devils's offense of passing and running. ''They can get in their double wing, which is really effective, and they can spread you out and throw it and run it. We have to be prepared for everything. They have a couple players that are really dangerous.''
He was referring to running backs Emarure Williams and Ben Reinhardt. Langworthy is particlarly impressed with Williams.
''He's long and elusive and wiry and he can make you miss and he's got a lot of speed,'' Langworthy said. ''He's someone we've got to account for. ''
Last week in a 35-11 win over West Seneca West, Williams had 203 yards and two touchdowns, one from 55 yards, and Reinhardt had 127 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown run.
The Clarence defense is also strong.
''Defensively they're really aggressive, they're tough,'' Langworthy said. ''They have a really good linebacker (Alec Dietsch) who had a good game against us last year.''
Last week for Jamestown, quarterback Jake Sisson had his best game of the season as he completed 11 of 15 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns and he also ran for a touchdown.
The rushing leader was again Da'Quan Hollingsworth with 22 carries and for 130 yards and one touchdown.
However, Langworthy pointed out there is room for improvement.
''There were two drives that we didn't finish on offense,'' he said. ''And they got a touchdown before half and an 80-yard run. Limiting those things would be helpful to us and scoring in the red zone.''
Cortland Haines led the Red Raiders in tackles with 12 and John Czech had 11.
''I think our defense had a great effort on Friday stopping an offense that usually puts up much more than 28,'' Langworthy said. ''But even though we're happy with our win, we can do better.''
And with another win on Saturday, the Red Raiders can do no better than clinching their first division title in 12 years.