If Richie Joly were to name the students who have the most pride in Jamestown High School and its football team, he knows that senior Charles Hoch would be on the short list.
''He lives for it,'' said Joly, a teacher and a Red Raiders' assistant coach.
So when the Red Raiders, the eighth-ranked team in the state, take on No. 9 Orchard Park at 7 tonight for the Section 6 Class AA championship at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Charles will be on the sideline wearing his game face.
Jamestown High School coaches, players talk about team manager
''This is his last hurrah,'' Joly said.
That means when the Red Raiders need their water bottles filled or the kicking tee has to be retrieved after a Zack Panebianco boot, Charles will be in charge of all that, giving 100 percent all the time.
Selected by Joly to be the team manager before the 2011 season, Charles has taken on his responsibilities with the same kind of passion as his friends who block and tackle.
JHS Manager Charles Hoch observes a recent practice.
P-J photo by Jim Riggs
''He's good at what he does because he's loyal and he'll do anything it takes,'' Joly said. ''He has pride in what he does. A lot of kids in this day and age don't have a lot of pride in what they do. When we talk about attitude and effort - the only two things you can control in your life - he's all about that. He says it all the time: 'Know what's right, do what's right.'''
Apparently, that motto has been part of his character for years.
Sallie Walker, a staff member at Washington Middle School, recalled the time years ago when Charles walked across town to Lind Funeral Home to pay his respects to another staff member's loved one who had passed away.
''That just told me the quality of person we were dealing with,'' she said.
The Red Raiders have become aware of that, too, ever since Joly brought him on board more than a year ago.
''After a couple weeks, we started to get to know him and we just took him in like he was our family,'' said senior co-captain Conner Anderson. ''We love the kid. He's always cracking jokes ... and he makes for a great practice every day. It's really enjoyable to have him there on the sidelines.''
Head coach Tom Langworthy said that attitude is ''kind of symbolic of our program.''
''Those kids take care of Charles and Charles takes care of them,'' he said. ''One thing I think you've seen in the last couple years with our teams is we play as a team. Whether you're a guy who is on the field without coming off the entire game or you're guy on the practice team, those kids are all valuable and all treated with respect.''
How much is Charles respected?
At last year's season-ending banquet, senior Jake Dwaileebe got up to speak about the season, one in which the Red Raiders advanced to the sectional championship game for the first time since 2000.
The first person he thanked was Charles.
''I think when you see someone who is a manager, and not necessarily a player, get treated with that kind of respect, it says a lot about your kids and your program,'' Langworthy said.
The fifth-year coach also noted that Charles is an equal among his peers during practices and games.
''He's treated very well and he also gets hollered at just like the players do when they screw up,'' Langworthy said. ''He understands that he has high expectations. ... I think the players appreciate that.''
Maybe that explains Charles' competitiveness. When the Red Raiders watch film of their opponents, Charles also takes special note of the other team's manager.
''Charles came up to me on a Tuesday and said, 'I'm going to tell that manager that I'm going to kick his butt,''' Langworthy recalled. ''I told him, 'No you're not. You let your actions speak louder than your words.
''He wants to be the best manager in the league.''
He may be the most loved, too, especially by the co-captains, Anderson and Mike Watson.
''I respect him a lot for what he does,'' said Anderson, who shares a birthday (Sept. 27) with Charles. ''He doesn't need to be helping us. He could be doing other things, but he takes the time and volunteers to help us out, and that speaks volumes.''
To show the team's appreciation, booster club president Kathy Anderson - Conner's mother - took a photograph, had it framed and gave it to Charles for his birthday last year. In the photo were Charles, Conner Anderson and Watson.
Noted Joly: ''He'll tell you, 'I look at it every day when I get up and I look at it every day before I go to bed.'''
Who ever said that dreams can't come true?