Battle Of Unbeatens
Jamestown, Canandaigua Playing For Semifinal Spot
It’s been more than 25 years since Steve Rauh was a member of Jamestown’s back-to-back state championship football teams, but the experience has never left him.
So he took to Facebook earlier this week to remind Red Raiders — past and present — how those years impacted him via a poem he penned and called, “The Undefeated.”
“I’ve got brothers that I haven’t seen in years,” Rauh wrote. “I’m talking about the ones who stood by my side. When the (stuff) hit the fan, they never ran and I’ll be damned if they ever hide.
“Now we’ve scattered throughout and all about, living lives we could not have foreseen. But not to worry, we’re not dead and buried, still very much a team.
“We were the first, with talent dispersed and everyone played their part. Not a ton of size but an army of guys with tremendous and unstoppable heart.
“So here’s to us, the blood and guts tell our story that forever remains. The undefeated never retreated and Raider Pride pumps through our veins.”
The poem is dedicated to, among others, the 1994 and 1995 state championship teams, which went 26-0; the undefeated 1986 team; the 2000 and 2014 state championship teams; and the Red Raiders squad that is playing in tonight’s New York State Public High School Class A Far West Regional at Strider Field.
For Coach Tom Langworthy’s unbeaten crew, which is 11-0 and ranked No. 2 in the state, to continue their 2021 journey toward their ultimate goal, they’ll have to find a way past Section V’s Canandaigua, a program with its own illustrious history.
Ranked No. 3 in the state, the Braves (11-0) advanced to today’s 8 p.m. kickoff by virtue of a 16-14 victory over University Prep in the Section V title game. Eric Platten’s 25-yard field goal with 33 seconds remaining was the difference, earning Canandaigua its third straight sectional crown and its 10th overall. The Braves claimed a state title in 1999.
Leading this year’s team are senior quarterback/defensive back Bryan Boldrin; senior running back/linebacker Ryan Gavette; and senior wide receiver/linebacker Jaxon Grant.
Boldrin has passed for 1,601 yards and 20 touchdowns, and has been intercepted only twice; Gavette has rushed for 745 yards and scored nine touchdowns; and Grant has caught 26 passes for 574 yards and has seven TDs.
Canandaigua, which has averaged 155 passing yards and 200 rushing yards per game this season, earned an automatic bid to the Section V semifinals via forfeit and defeated Greece Arcadia 34-6. The Braves won the Class A2 title over Spencerport 41-14.
Gavette (19 tackles for loss and 10 sacks) and James Delforte (14 tackles for loss and seven sacks) lead the the Braves’ defense. Boldrin has four interceptions, including one for a touchdown.
“They’re very well coached, they’re very fundamentally sound, they’ve got good athletes and they’ve got a lot of good football players on the field,” Langworthy said. “They can run, they can throw and they have a lot of experience.”
The Red Raiders could be described the same way.
In their last five played games — a sixth was a forfeit — they have outscored their opponents 241-35, including a 41-0 win over Frontier in the Section VI championship game at Highmark Stadium, their first sectional title since 2014 when they went on to win the Class AA state crown.
“It was a long time coming,” Langworthy said, “and you just felt all week that it was our time. We’d been so close (in the 2021 spring season when Jamestown lost by a point in overtime). As painful as that loss was, I always had faith that it would propel us this year with so many guys coming back. It’s done that and it will, hopefully, continue to do that.”
Leading the offense is senior running back Jaylen Butera, who has rushed for 1,915 yards on 208 carries and scored 32 touchdowns. He has also caught 18 passes for 373 yards and six TDs. Another senior, Ben Anderson, has been a perfect complement, gaining 591 yards on 57 carries and scoring six TDs. Junior Radon Wright, who has 417 yards on 45 carries and four TDs, has filled in admirably in a reserve role.
Junior quarterback Trey Drake has completed 75 of 122 passes for 1,237 yards and 13 TDs. His favorite targets are Butera, and juniors Sean O’Brien (18 receptions) and Colin Melendez (17 catches).
All that production has been made possible by a veteran all-senior offensive line that includes tackles Joey Delgado and Julian McGaughy, guards Drayce Garland and Nick Miraglia and center Caleb Bane.
Defensively, the Red Raiders are led by Anderson (135 tackles, nine sacks) and O’Brien (109 tackles, four sacks). Senior Jarel Farmer has a team-high 10 sacks, and senior Sincere Green and Butera have five and four interceptions, respectively.
“Our kids are playing hard, they have a lot of confidence and they can feel it,” Langworthy said. “It’s starting to become something that their vision and goals are becoming reality — being league champions, now section champions and when you win the section you’re two games away from playing in the (Carrier Dome, site of the state championship).
“For us, it’s a huge game. Canandaigua was in the state semifinals two years ago. They’re a good football program. It’s going to be a good football game.”
The winner advances to the NYSPHSAA semifinals, which will be played at 6 p.m. a week from today at Cicero-North Syracuse.
“I love the way our guys have been competing, and competing with a lot of enthusiasm and passion,” Langworthy said. “It’s been fun to watch.”