Raiders To Drop A Class This Season

Jamestown coach Tom Langworthy will be facing mostly brand-new opponents during the 2018 football season. P-J file photo

For decades, the Jamestown High School football team has had some epic games with Orchard Park.

Lancaster, too.

And, then, of course, there was that I-don’t-believe-what-I-just-saw first-round playoff game at Clarence last season that the Red Raiders won in double overtime.

“Each team in Class AA was a mini-rivalry,” Jamestown coach Tom Langworthy said, “because we played them every year.”

That is about to change.

Langworthy announced via Twitter over the weekend that the Red Raiders will move to Class A for the 2018 season after the New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced that the Basic Educational Data System numbers (commonly known as BEDS, which determine the classifications for team and individual sports) had been adjusted.

In 2017, the BEDS numbers for Class AA (students in grades 9 through 11) was 930 or better. Jamestown safely fell within that range. This year, however, the BEDS numbers for Class AA have been raised to 1,025 or more. Jamestown’s current BEDS number is 1,020.

That means that the Red Raiders’ new “home” will be in Class A this fall, which will be comprised of 18 Section VI schools divided into three divisions of six. While Langworthy said a schedule has not yet been made, he understands Jamestown’s divisional opponents will include defending state champion West Seneca West, Frontier, Hamburg, Niagara-Wheatfield and Kenmore West.

“My feelings are mixed,” Langworthy said. “I think AA is very familiar to us. We know the opponents, we know the coaches, their tendencies and what they like to do. We have years upon years of film and years of mutual opponents. That was something that was familiar. … I’m disappointed to lose that. At the same time … we have to play the hand we’re dealt. There are a lot of really good teams in A. If we’re in A, we want to be the best A team.”

Langworthy noted there is a “chance” that Jamestown could schedule a non-league game with Orchard Park, “which I would really like.” Continuing a relationship with Lancaster on a yearly basis, however, is not likely to happen, he added, because of the Legends’ generations-long rivalry with neighboring Depew.

“We are going to lose one of those two, if not both,” Langworthy said, “but it’s something we’d like to keep going. We’d also like to play AA teams because it will keep us sharp and playing at the highest level possible.”

Langworthy views the change philosophically.

“When one door closes another one opens,” he said. “Now we have West Seneca West, the defending state champs, so we’re still going to play against really good opponents.”

But Langworthy also knows that there is a real chance that Jamestown will return to Class AA down the road.

“There is one class at the high school that’s significantly lower than the usual class size,” he said. “As that class moves through the high school, it looks like we can (eventually) move back to AA and stay put.”

For now, though, Langworthy said, “We’ll just focus on what we can control and go from there.”