For the fifth time in six years, the Fredonia Hillbillies will be playing for the right to play for a Sectional title at Ralph Wilson Stadium as they travel to JFK today at 1:30 p.m. in a Class C semifinal contest.
The Hillbillies defeated JFK 28-14 in Week 1 and with a trip to Ralph Wilson Stadium on the line, Fredonia coach Bob Ball knows his team can't look to next week just yet.
"That's always exciting," he said. "That's the goal of any team to play at a NFL stadium. We have kids that did that two years ago. We have kids who have been there. We have to take it one game at a time. We definitely have a good challenge on the road (today). We can't look beyond that."
Though Fredonia was able to score on big plays to preserve the Week 1 win, the Hillbillies are aware that JFK is a better team than it was in early September.
"Their execution is better," Ball said. "Their quarterback is playing a lot better. He is a two-year starter. He is much more polished now. They are pretty balanced. Their quarterback likes to throw the slant. He also runs out of the shotgun. He and the running back are their two main players. They want the ball in one of those guys' hands."
With JFK focusing on the pass, Ball will look to his young defensive secondary core to step up this week - much like they did in the final minute of last week's 7-6 victory over Allegany-Limestone.
"We have gotten better in the secondary," Ball noted. "We are young there. Matt McCarthy made big plays last week. That's a sophomore making plays. Our defensive line has to get pressure on the quarterback, too."
If the Hillbillies want to play for a Class C title, they will need to be more efficient on special teams and offense than they were last week.
"I didn't think we played bad on defense, but we need to improve on offense and special teams," Ball said. "I thought it was the fact we played a darn good football team and we are lucky to come away with a win. We battled field position all game long last week. We never had a short field.
"It's nice if you have athletes who can make plays in the open field," Ball continued. "Whatever way we can generate scoring, we need to do it. Whatever it takes in the playoffs, you do whatever it takes to get the job done."
Though Fredonia struggled on the road this season, it knows in order to continue playing, it will have to win on the road.
"Early in season, it was tough on the road for us," Ball said. "We lost to Wilson and Akron on the road. We were a young team. At this point in the season, we have been on the road and won on the road. That's not an issue anymore. I don't think that's going to be a problem. From here on out, we are on the road every week. Now it's playing your best game. If you have a bad week, you're done. The competition is close enough that you can't have a down week and expect to keep going. You just have to prepare the best you can and cover every thing you think will be thrown at you. I think overall, the last 10-plus years, we have done pretty well. We are no stranger to this. Kids have been in the playoffs before."