Canisius and Jamestown have set a date for the 2014 football season.
This will be a rare nonleague meeting of top-flight large schools from Section VI and the Monsignor Martin Association, and the timing is excellent because of how the two finished the 2013 season.
Jamestown, the Class AA champion of Section VI, and Canisius, the Monsignor Martin champion, finished tied for the top spot in the final 2013 News large school poll.
The teams will play at Jamestown’s Strider Field in Week Four: Friday, Sept. 26, at 7:30 p.m.
Discussions began in December when Canisius coach Rich Robbins approached Jamestown coach Tom Langworthy at Dick Gallagher’s Western New York football banquet about playing a 2014 game.
“I’d like to thank Jamestown’s Tom Langworthy and Ben Drake, and our coach, Rich Robbins, for their efforts to bring this game together,” Canisius athletic director Jim Mauro said in a prepared statement.
“While our team’s goal, and Jamestown’s, is to advance as far as possible in our respective leagues, games such as these provide memories that last a lifetime for its participants. We want our team to be measured against top competition, and Jamestown’s addition to our schedule certainly provides that.”
“It doesn’t get much better than having the top two teams in the area – the best private school and the best public school – play under the lights on a Friday night,” Robbins said in a statement. “The game will be a good challenge for our team and exciting for fans of high school football.”
Jamestown’s Langworthy told The News that scheduling an opponent like Canisius was something he and his staff discussed at the conclusion of this past season.
“In our meetings at the end of season, we talked about different things we can do to enhance our program and take it to a higher level,” said Langworthy, who has coached Jamestown since 2008.
“Everyone is excited about it. It’s an opportunity for us to compete against a really good program and showcase two great football programs with excellent athletes and excellent kids. It’s a win-win.”
Section VI large schools, for the most part, have refused to play local private schools going back for more than a decade. There have been some exceptions in recent years, notably with Clarence hosting St. Joe’s this past season, Lockport hosting St. Joe’s last year and Williamsville South playing Bishop Timon-St. Jude for the last two seasons.
Jamestown and Canisius met at Canisius’ Stransky Field in West Seneca in 2009, with Canisius winning, 28-2. Jamestown finished 3-6 that season while Canisius went 6-5 and won the Monsignor Martin championship.
North Tonawanda, which won the Class AA state championship in 2009, hosted games against St. Francis in 2007 (42-13 loss) and St. Joe’s in 2008 (42-10 win).
Most notable of Erie County football powers that have not played nonleague games against private schools in recent years are Orchard Park, winner of 13 Section VI titles and finalist at The Ralph in 12 of the last 13 years, and Sweet Home, which won six straight Class A titles and 69 straight Section VI games before losing to Williamsville North in this year’s final.