Before the Western New York high school football season began, many were already pointing to a game in the final week of the regular season as a showdown when Jamestown visits Orchard Park. There would be interest because the teams have met in the Section 6 AA championship game for the past two season. Also, the Red Raiders haven't won at Orchard Park for 20 years.
In the preseason, Jamestown coach Tom Langworthy pointed out that game was a long way off and a lot can happen in Class AA football before then. It did last week when Orchard Park lost to Lockport while Jamestown remained undefeated at 2-0 with a win over Kenmore West.
Now it is Week 3 and a game that not many may have noticed on the Red Raiders' schedule has suddenly popped to the top of the must-see games list this weekend. It is a non-league contest against South Park from Class A tonight at 7 at All-High Stadium.
Both teams are undefeated and both feature stellar quarterbacks.
''It's the best city school team in Buffalo against one of the top programs in the suburban schools in the section,'' Langworthy said. ''It's going to be a really good game and they're a really good team. ''
Jamestown is coming off a 50-28 win over Kenmore West in which quarterback Jake Sisson threw for a Western New York record 508 yards and six touchdowns.
South Park will counter with quarterback Tyler Mascio, who transferred from Canisius where he called the signals for the No. 1 team in the state last season.
''He can run and he can throw, he's got good accuracy,'' Langworthy said. ''He's one of the best quarterbacks we'll see this year. In the next two weeks we'll see the best two quarterbacks we'll face this year with Mascio and then next week with Lancaster's Kevin Colafranceschi.''
Mascio also likes to run with the ball
''He's similar to Jake,'' Langworthy said. ''He's definitely a dual threat like Jake.''
Mascio proved that last week with 96 yards rushing, including touchdown runs of 1 and 4 yards, in addition to completing 16-of-23 passes, one an 8-yarder for a touchdown.
The running attack was led by T.J. Scott with 121 yards and on defense he picked up seven tackles.
The tackling leaders were twin brothers William and Wilquan Burgess who combined for 18.
''They're really good and they're aggressive,'' Langworthy said. ''We got to account for and make sure we block those two.''
The Jamestown defense was anything but stellar last week.
''We take a lot of pride in our defense, but we gave up 28,' Langworthy said. ''Usually in Double A football you give up 25 to 30 points you're going to lose more often that not. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I think games are won with defense. The points are great, but I don't want to be giving up 25 to 30 points a game.''
And that was just one flaw that might be overlooked in a 50-28 win.
''I'm not pleased overall with the level that we played on Saturday,'' he said. ''We were not consistent enough running the football. I want us to be balanced in our offense and we weren't balanced, we were off balance. I'm glad we threw for 500 yards, I'm glad that we're capable of doing that, but we need to be more balanced and we need to be more consistent in our line blocking.''
Da'Quon Hollingsworth was the rushing leader with 71 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries.
''I didn't think we played excellent on Saturday even though we had areas of our game that were excellent,'' Langworthy said. ''But I don't think overall that we reached the standard of excellence that we talk about. What we want to do this week is get back there. We did not have it and our opponent in Week Two was better than in Week One and now our Week-Three opponent is the best we've seen so far.''
There was one very bright spot Langworthy saw.
The Red Raiders went to halftime leading 24-14 after a school record 47-yard field goal by Quinn Lee Yaw with two seconds left. But earlier in the second half, Kenmore West intercepted two Sisson passes and scored two touchdowns in less than a minute-and-a-half to take a 28-24 lead.
''I thought we were really poised,'' Langworthy said. ''Even when we gave up those two quick touchdowns there was no feeling of panic on the sideline at all. We really maintained our composure and stuck to doing what we do. I was really proud of our guys because that early in the season to show that type of poise and that type of character, to come back from a few setbacks, I think that's really important.''
The Red Raiders will need more of that poise tonight.