Stepping into the starting quarterback role as a freshman for a storied program may seem nerve-racking to some.
Not Jamestown’s Trey Drake.
“Nah, there’s no pressure,” he said with a smile. “I just go out and make stuff happen.”
He sure did that on Friday night. Drake threw for three touchdowns and the Red Raiders escaped Clarence with a 23-21 win in Class AA action.
“As the season has gone along, he’s gotten a lot more confident and a lot better,” Jamestown coach Tom Langworthy said. “The passing game is something we need for our offense to be diverse and Trey has answered the call each week. This was his best game yet.”
It was the second straight nail-biter for each team. The Red Devils were coming off an eye-opening 27-26 win over three-time defending Section VI champion Lancaster while the Red Raiders (3-1 overall, 2-1 in Class AA) looked to bounce back after last week’s double-overtime loss to Bennett.
“That was definitely a hard-fought loss,” said Jamestown running back Savon VanSickle, who ran for 101 yards in the win. “But at the end of the game, we all had the bounce-back mentality and we just had to come out and eat today.”
As for Clarence, it came down to a two-point conversion for the second straight week. After stopping Lancaster’s try in overtime in Week 3, the Red Devils trailed by eight when Mason Davis ran it in from three yards out with 3:59 left in the fourth quarter. Clarence went back to Davis on the two-point attempt but, despite a valiant effort, he was stopped short by a swarm of Jamestown defenders. The ball was snatched out of his hands by offensive lineman Jake Sweeney, who ran into the end zone but after a brief discussion, the referees properly ruled the try no good.
“That’s Double-A football for you,” Red Devils coach Paul Burgio said. “We needed to get the two points to keep it going, Last week it went our way, this week it didn’t. That’s high school football. We have to be men about it and move on.”
Drake did most of his damage in the first half, throwing for nearly 200 yards. He connected with three different receivers for scores: Demari Jones (65 yards), Jaylen Butera (25 yards) and Elijah Rojas (22 yards) as the Red Raiders built a 20-8 halftime lead.
“You have to give them credit,” Burgio said. “They went max protection and took some shots and they had some bigger receivers on us. And give the freshman quarterback some credit, he threw some really good balls. It still wasn’t the end of the world being down what we were at halftime, considering how much they were outplaying us.”
Clarence got back into the game, due in large part to the performance of senior Cole Harris. He returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown in the first half and added a 12-yard TD run in the third quarter.
“He’s one of the best players in Western New York for sure,” Burgio said. “He can score any time he touches the ball from anywhere on the field. That was probably the best high school football game he’s played.”
The three-headed monster of a running attack of Jamestown ran out the final four minutes with some hard running, the biggest run by VanSickle, who sealed the deal with a five-yard run on third-and-3 with 1:59 left after Clarence had exhausted all of its timeouts. Jones and Butera also feature prominently in the Jamestown backfield.
“Our backs are super-dynamic,” Langworthy said. “Savon, Jaylen, Demari … they each bring something to the table, they complement each other, they love each other and I think we have a great chemistry there.”
Andrew Dix added a most-important 25-yard field goal – the Red Raiders only points in the second half.
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