Tom Langworthy was not a happy football coach on Tuesday evening. His Red Raiders (7-1) had just completed what he thought was a lackadaisical practice session in preparation for Friday's 7 p.m. Section 6 Class AA semifinal game against the Frontier Falcons (6-2) at Strider Field.
He voiced his displeasure to the players and for good reason.
''This is high-stakes football right now,'' Langworthy explained. ''We've got to be at our best and we've never demanded anything but our player's best and I'm not going to stop doing it now. It's crunch time. The winner stays in the tournament and plays at the Ralph and the loser hands in their equipment.''
Jamestown’s Mike Watson is dragged down by Frontier’s Kevin Hamilton after catching a pass when the teams played on Sept. 28
P-J photo by Jim Riggs
And he doesn't expect his players to be handing in their equipment on Monday.
''We want to get back to the Ralph, that's one of our team goals,'' he said, referring to playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium last season for the first time in 11 years. ''It's going to be a great task because Frontier's a good football team.''
And a hungry one.
''I'm not sure the last time they've been to the stadium, but it's been a while (1984) and they're going to play hard because they want to get there,'' Langworthy said. ''Just like we played hard last year when we wanted to get back after it had been a while.''
On Frontier's side is the Falcons are the only team to defeat the Red Raiders, a 35-28 home victory on Sept. 28. But Langworthy sees that as a major motivation for his team.
''You don't always get a chance to play a against a team (again) that got one on you,'' he said. ''Some people never get that opportunity and we do and it's to go to Ralph Wilson Stadium and play for the sectional championship. Our guys should embrace this opportunity.''
In the loss at Frontier, Jamestown led 14-7 at halftime, but Frontier tied the game with it's top running back, Kenny Kahler, out the game with an injury. But Kevin Hamilton took over and finished with 70 yards and two touchdowns.
After Jamestown regained the lead, 21-14, with a touchdown within 21 seconds, Frontier answered back 19 seconds later to tie the score.
''I thought defensively we had some breakdowns and some mental mistakes,'' Langworthy said. ''Offensively, I thought we had too many three-and-outs. We had a kickoff return against us that hurt. Right there, offense, defense and special teams; all three of those can be improved and they're going to have to be for this weekend.''
And he added, ''Even though we've gotten much better, they have, too.''
Both teams had quick starts last week. While the Red Raiders were rolling to a 60-22 win over Hutch Tech, Frontier defeated Niagara Falls, 21-7.
The Falcons jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead and coach Tim Mylinski said, ''We came out like gangbusters.''
That also referred to the Red Raiders, who scored 98 seconds into their game with Hutch Tech en route to 19 first-quarter points.
''It was good,'' Langworthy said. ''We came out and played well early and that's what we wanted to do. We wanted to play well in the first quarter and we scored 19 points.''
The 60 points somewhat surprised him.
''It just crept up on us,'' Langworthy said. ''We scored quickly. We put together good drives, but they weren't long drives.''
And the 22 points from Hutch Tech didn't concern him.
''We kept it going for most of the night,'' he said about his team's mostly excellent play. ''We had a few breakdowns, but they're a good team, too, and they made the playoffs and have good athletes, so credit to them on some of that stuff.''
He was mainly pleased that Hutch Tech didn't score until the Red Raiders had the game well in hand.
Helping them get the game well in hand was running back Da'Quan Hollingsworth, who played only three quarters and rushed 20 times for 217 yards and five touchdowns. And keeping Hutch Tech in check was the defense, led by John Czech with 15 tackles and Cortland Haines and Mike Watson with 10 each.
''We played well, we kept our expectations high, that's what I'm happy with,'' Langworthy said. ''We didn't play down to a level below because the team might not have been as good. We played our level and I think that was important coming into that week.''
And ''that week,'' the usually easy quarterfinal round, is in the past.
''It's good to get the home playoff game, it's good to get the No. 1 seed because you play against the No. 4 seed, but that's over with now,'' Langworthy said.
Now the Red Raiders, ranked third in Western New York, have another home playoff game, but against a formidable opponent that is ranked 10th.
''The path to Ralph Wilson Stadium goes through Jamestown and we have to protect our turf,'' Langworthy said.