Who: Jamestown Red Raiders (10-0) vs. Aquinas Little Irish (10-0)
What: Class AA Far West Regional.
When: Tonight, 6.
Where: Sahlen’s Stadium, 460 Oak St., Rochester.
Tickets: $8 for three-game session (Class C game is at noon; B at 3). Parking in stadium lots is $5.
Television: Time Warner Cable SportsChannel (live).
Buffalo News large school poll: Jamestown is No. 1.
New York State Sportswriters Association Class AA poll: Aquinas No. 1; Jamestown No. 6.
Jamestown in the regionals: 4-0. First appearance since 2000, when it beat Webster, 16-14, on the way to the state title. Also won on its way to the Class A (the state had just four classes then) final in the first three years of the state tournament: 1993 (21-14 over Fairport; state runner-up), 1994 (14-7 over Fairport, state champion); 1995 (35-0 over Gates-Chili, state champion).
Aquinas in the regionals: 7-3. This is its 11th regional appearance in the last 16 years, and five have led to a state championship; all of those came in Class A before last year’s elevation to Class AA. This is Aquinas’ eighth straight regional. After beating Iroquois in 2006 (7-0), the next five came against Sweet Home. Aquinas won on its way to state titles in 2007 and 2010 (Sweet Home won on its way to state titles in 2008 and 2009); it also won in 2011 before losing in the state semifinals. Last year, in its first season in AA, Aquinas lost to Orchard Park, 14-7.
Coaches: Jamestown, Tom Langworthy, sixth season (38-19); Aquinas, Chris Battaglia, 12th season (117-53-2).
Jamestown key players (and statistics): Sr. QB Jake Sisson, 6-0, 190 (150-232, 2,871 yards, 32 TDs, 4 INTs; 97-669 rushing, 22 TDs), Sr. RB/LB Da’Quan Hollingsworth, 5-9, 180 (106-583, 11 TDs; 8-83 receiving); Jr. WR/DB Zack Panebianco, 5-9, 180 (45-989, 10 TDs; 50 tackles, 4 INTs; 10-13 PAT kicks); Jr. WR/S Stephen Carlson, 6-4, 186 (49-938, 11 TDs, 4 2PATs; 73 tackles, 1 INT); Jr. WR/DB Ben Larson, 6-0, 170 (25-385, 5 TDs; 29 tackles, 2 INTs); Sr. WR/LB Brian Park, 6-3, 200 (20-464, 6 TDs; 11 tackles, 1 INT); Jr. OL/DL Joe Mistretta, 6-1, 270 (64 tackles, 4.5 sacks); Jr. LB/RB Kevin Mosley, 5-9, 180 (86 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 1 INT); Sr. LB/RB Cameron Haberberger, 5-5, 150 (72 tackles, 5 sacks); Jr. LB/OL Jacis Blake, 5-11, 230 (41 tackles, 4 sacks).
How they got here: Jamestown rolled to a 42-7 Section VI championship victory over Frontier in which it set three Ralph Wilson Stadium championship records: total yards (607), individual passing yards (Sisson’s 402) and individual receiving yards (Panebianco’s 181). Aquinas routed Rush-Henrietta, 50-6, in the Section V final.
Pre-snap read: For the second straight year, a clash of titans occurs in this round. Last year, Orchard Park prevailed in a grueling, hard-hitting war of attrition, 14-7, on its way to the state championship game. This year it matches two programs with great histories in the state tournament and great achievements this season. The Little Irish, a regular opponent for Monsignor Martin teams, won at Bishop Timon-St. Jude (32-8), beat Canisius (3-0), won at St. Joe’s (31-21) and beat St. Francis (48-7) – it also owns a 29-3 home win over Ursuline of Ohio. Aquinas is, as usual, strong up the middle, where senior running back Luch Pietropaolo (5-10, 210) is a threat to pound away for yards at a time or break big runs after bouncing off tackles. Sophomore quarterback Jake Zembiec (6-3, 200) is receiving Division I attention. Donato Clemente (5-10, 180 senior) is an all-around threat. Senior tight end Alex Bianchi (6-2, 200) is a favorite target in big spots. Senior Alonzo Turney (5-10, 180) is another playmaker. Senior interior linemen Mike Holley (5-10, 280) and Emilio Zuniga (5-10, 280) are a force. After a season in which Jamestown has rolled through Class AA save for a 42-41 shootout win at Orchard Park in Week Seven, it faces its toughest defense and toughest opponent overall. The Red Raiders have plenty of playmakers. Sisson has shown that he’s been able to get big yardage with his feet and his arm if he’s flushed out of the pocket. Jamestown has to like its chances if the game is anything close to a shootout.
What’s next: The winner will return to Sahlen’s next Saturday at 6 p.m. for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association semifinals and a chance to advance to the championships at 6 p.m. Dec. 1 at Syracuse’s Carrier Dome. The opponent will be determined in today’s 3 p.m. Central Regional between Section III (Syracuse area) champion Christian Brothers Academy (10-0, No. 2 in state poll) and Section IV (Binghamton area) champion Elmira (10-0, No. 18) at Union-Endicott High’s Ty Cobb Stadium.
At BuffaloNews.com: The #PrepTalkLive blog will have play-by-play updates from all finals. You can comment in the blog or via Twitter by tweeting with the hashtag #PrepTalkLive.
— Keith McShea