Last season, the Jamestown Red Raiders made their first appearance at Ralph Wilson Stadium in 11 years and lost to the eventual state champion Orchard Park Quakers in the Section 6 Class AA championship game.
It's a year later and it's deja vu as Jamestown and Orchard Park will meet again for the Class AA title on Saturday at 7 p.m.
When he walked off that field in November of 2011, did Red Raiders coach Tom Langworthy feel like his team would be back one year later again facing Orchard Park?
Jamestown coach Tom Langworthy calls a play for his offense during a practice session at Strider Field earlier this week.
P-J photo by Jim Riggs
''My vision for the program is that we're competitive every year and at the end of the season we're always able to compete for a sectional championship and that's what we've been able to do the last two years,'' he said. ''This year, with so many guys coming back with experience it feels different in a good way. Our guys are more confident, they know what to expect, there's not going be a lot of sightseeing when we get to the stadium. I think the message to the kids is we've come this far and now we've come back. Let's continue to have our season go and not just get there, but win it.''
The Quakers have been in the title game in seven of the last eighth seasons, but coach Gene Tundo thinks it could be start of a streak for the Red Raiders.
''With all the young kids that they have and all the talent that they have, they could be there for the next five years,'' he said.
The teams met at Strider Field on Oct. 5 when Orchard Park came in as the No. 1 team in the state with an 18-game winning streak. But that all ended when the Red Raiders won, 35-28. So unlike last season, when Jamestown went to the stadium seeking revenge for a regular-season loss to the Quakers, Orchard Park finds itself in that position on Saturday.
''That's a factor I'm sure, but the bigger factor for us is that we want to win the sectionals,'' Langworthy said. ''We want the season to continue. We want to be the best in the Double A's. There' a lot of pride riding on that.''
Tundo also downplayed the revenge factor.
''I don't look at it that way,'' he said. ''We want to win another state championship and we have to beat them to get there. I'm sure the kids feel like this is their chance for a little revenge, but for me it's a great opportunity to play a good football team. They got us the first time, they outplayed us. We have play better than we did the last time or we're going to get the same results.''
In the semifinals last week, each team had first-half problems. After leading 14-0 in the first half, Frontier came back and tied Jamestown at 14-14 at halftime. Then the Red Raiders scored 28 points in the second half en route to a 42-14 victory.
Orchard Park played at Lockport and found itself trailing 16-6 at the half. Then the Quakers scored 27 second-half points for a 33-16 win.
Langworthy scouted that game and said, ''Lockport's a good team and they were at home and had everything going for them. And then it was a mud bowl, so it's hard to take away much from that.''
Tundo said, ''It was pretty bad. We haven't played on field that bad in about three or four years. It was complete mud. Lockport has a great running back and a good quarterback. They kind of dictated the first half and we played a better second half.''
Orchard Park quarterback Ben Holmes scored on a 77-yard keeper early in the second half and the tables turned.
''We had a big run to start our first drive and our kids got fired up,'' Tundo said.
As for the Red Raiders' first half, Langworthy said, 'We were (leading) 14-0 and in addition we had a touchdown called back. I thought we started out really well and there was no lull. They're (Frontier) a good team. But I thought we were the better team and we showed that in the second half. I love what I saw from our guys in the second half on Friday night. We've had some great finishes to games.''
Not only did each team score nearly 30 points in the second half in their wins, but their top running backs stood out as Mitch Wilson had 248 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns for the Quakers while Da'Quan Hollingsworth rushed 20 times for 193 yards and three touchdowns for the Red Raiders.
''That back is as good as anybody,'' Tundo said about Hollingsworth. ''He's quick, he's very elusive, he's hard to tackle. He's as good a back as I've seen Jamestown have in a long time.''
The quarterbacks also did some running as Holmes finished with 150 yards on 15 carries and scored two touchdowns for Orchard Park while Sisson ran 10 times for 102 yards for the Red Raiders.
So it appears the teams are similar, but Langworthy said, ''We're similar in a lot of ways, but we're different in a lot of ways, too.''
Tundo said, ''I think we're similar. I think they've been throwing the ball better than we have. In our game (against Jamestown) their quarterback hit 15 out of 20. Either he had the game of his life..., but I've seen some other games and I think he throws a great ball and they have very good receivers.''
Sisson suffered a slight concussion in last Friday night's win, but he'll be ready for the title game.
''He didn't have any symptoms on Saturday and was checked out,'' Langworthy said. ''We're making sure we're taking all the precautions and we think he'll be OK.''
Tundo is more concerned about another Red Raider who has suddenly become and offensive threat - Cortland Haines. He scored the Jamestown's last two touchdowns last week by rumbling in from the 4- and 2-yard lines.
''Their center is probably as good a player as I've ever seen,'' he said. ''That kid plays linebacker, he runs back kicks. I'm bringing a bulldozer in when he gets on the field. I think it's a fair trade because that's basically what he is, a bulldozer.''
The winner of the game will face Section 5 champion in the Class AA Far West Regional at All-High Stadium on Nov. 10 at 6 p.m.