by Jim Riggs
December 17, 2000
Huckno Has Right Answers In Run To State Championship
There were a lot of adjustments in between and the burden belonged to the man in charge – Coach Wally Huckno.
It was known Aaron Leeper would be one of the top running backs in Western New York and, as usual, Jamestown had plenty of other talented runners to back him up. The secondary, which included Leeper, also looked strong, and the kicking game would be a weapon with the leg of Mike Baker.
But then came the question marks.
Jamestown would be starting an inexperienced junior at quarterback – Kris Olson. At linebacker would be two sophomores and there were some doubts about the offensive line that had only two returnees.
“The fullback spot, that is the big question,” Huckno said in August. “I don’t think we’re going to be poor, but it’s going to take some time to find out.”
Jamestown was 3-0 when Sheldon Battle was moved from tight end to fullback and he remained there as the Red Raiders continued to roll. Huckno had been concerned about making the move because, “If you fill a hole you make a hole.”
In stead Battle made holes for Leeper to run through and also did some running of his own.
Jamestown had some impressive wins on the way to a perfect 13-0 season and the No. 1 ranking in the state, but because of the Red Raiders’ play in the early quarters of some of those victories, they could have become losses.
At Hamburg, the Red Raiders trailed 13-7 before scoring 40 straight points for the 47-13 win.
At West Seneca West, Jamestown led only 14-8 in the second quarter, but then scored 28 unanswered points for a 42-14 victory.
In the state semifinal game against Henninger, the Red Raiders saw their quick 21-0 lead reduced to 21-12 early in the third quarter, but went on to win 34-12.
And in the state title game against New Rochelle, Jamestown trailed 7-0 at halftime and it could have been a larger deficit if a New Rochelle touchdown hadn’t been called back on a penalty. But in the second half Jamestown roared back with 33 points to capture their third state title in six years.
There were times when the Red Raiders could have lost their confidence and allowed the momentum to remain with their opponent. Instead, someone had to give them the boost to remain focused and follow their game plan or adjust to a new one. That someone was Huckno.
Huckno will always credit his assistants, Joe DiMaio, Tom Phillips and Dave Currie, who work with him like a family. Huckno will also credit Red Raider Pride as a key to the team’s success.
They say coaches are given too much blame for losses and not enough credit for wins.
Huckno deserves plenty of credit for the Red Raiders’ wins and that is why he is The Post-Journal Coach of the Year for the fifth time.