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Showdown At Strider

Red Raiders Square Off Against Lancaster In Class AA Semis

Jamestown’s Cam’ron Mays (34) and Josh Tonkin (22) bring down a Niagara Falls ball carrier during a Class AA football game earlier this month. P-J file photo by Scott Kindberg

Jamestown hasn’t played for a Section VI championship since 2014, the year it went on to claim a New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA crown.

Lancaster, on the other hand, has captured three straight sectional titles.

The Red Raiders would love to end the Legends’ recent dominance tonight when the two longtime rivals square off in a semifinal game at Strider Field. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

Jamestown (7-1), which is ranked 21st in the state, is coming off a convincing, 49-7, quarterfinal victory over No. 8 Frontier, while No. 5 Lancaster (6-2) held off No. 4 Clarence, 23-17. The winner advances to New Era Field next Friday against either No. 2 Orchard Park or No. 3 Bennett.

“This is a special group, we love the way they play, compete and overcome setbacks,” Jamestown coach Tom Langworthy said. “These guys are talented and they’re great kids, so we want this for them, for our community and Jamestown High School, so there is a lot stake.”

Jamestown quarterback Trey Drake has thrown for 1,006 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. P-J file photo

The Red Raiders are riding a five-game winning streak into tonight’s contest, doing so with a balanced attack. Savon VanSickle (808 yards, 15 touchdowns), Jaylen Butera (611 yards, seven TDs) and Demarri Jones (319 yards, four TDs) are a potent trio, while quarterback Trey Drake has had a strong season in his first opportunity behind center, completing 55 of 96 passes for 1,006 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Drake’s top targets are Elijah Rojas (15 receptions for 364 yards and three touchdowns) followed by Simeon Leeper (16-303-2), Jones (11-220-2) and Butera (10-186-4).

Defensively, Josh Tonkin (51 tackles), Jones (40 tackles, including 10 for loss) and Butera (39 tackles) lead the way.

They’ll be put to the test against the Legends, whose only losses were to Clarence in Week 3, 27-26, and to Orchard Park in Week Six, 21-20.

Cody Phillips is Lancaster’s top runner, with 497 yards and seven touchdowns, but it’s through the air where the Erie County school has been quite potent.

Quarterback Jason Mansell has completed 113 of 181 passs for 1,362 yards and 18 touchdowns. His favorite target is Shawn Davis (40 receptions, 419 yards, six touchdowns), but Nick Castellana (26-406-5), Ethan Jurkowski (24-257-4) and Dominic Fulciniti (15-179-3) aren’t far behind.

Conor Mahony (61 tackles) and Matt Marschner (58 stops) are the Legends’ top defenders.

“I think it’s going to be a great game,” Langworthy said. ” … The margin for error is small. From a large-school perspective, this may have been the greatest year of AA football that we’ve ever seen as far as how much parity there’s been. … That being said, it’s going to be a battle. Both teams want to get to the stadium.”

In the other area Section VI playoff game tonight, No. 3 Chautauqua Lake/Westfield/Brocton travels to No. 1 Southwestern in a Class C semifinal. The Trojans, who are ranked No. 2 in the New York State Sportswriters Association poll, are coming off a 49-21 quarterfinal win over No. 4 Silver Creek/Forestville, while the Thunderbirds prevailed over JFK, 13-6.

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