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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Janca Leads OP in AA Playoff Win over Will North

Last season Dillon Janca made a name for himself in Section VI football by carving up opposing defenses with his arm. On Friday night he showed everybody that he could also get things done with his legs. Janca scored three rushing touchdowns for the Orchard Park Quakers in route to a 33-19 win over the visiting Williamsville North Spartans.

It was a Class AA North playoff match-up that featured two of the best coaches in the area in Gene Tundo (OP) and Mike Mammoliti (WN). That and a host of seniors that knew one way or another some would live to play for at least another week and the others would never put the same uniform on ever again. For Will North’s Connor Kelly, Anthony Maniscalco, Jairus Huggins and the Huang brothers Andrew and Jason were some of those seniors that fell into the latter category.

Kelly and Maniscalco especially took the loss hard and who could blame them? Two of the gutsiest defensive players on the roster that play hard to the whistle week in week out left everything on the field. Kelly finished with an interception and 7 tackles Friday night but just couldn’t bring himself to talk after the game. Something tells me that he has a lot more in the tank and could find his way onto a roster at the next level.

Jason Huang, with tears running down his face, sat beside himself on the 40-yard line trying to come to grips with what just transpired. “I’m proud of the way we played tonight. We left it all out there” Huang said. Adding “they were the better team today.”

The Spartans opened up the scoring when sophomore QB Joe Nusall hit the 6’4″ Huggins for a 13-yard score in the opening quarter. OP responded on their next drive with Janca picking up his first TD, a 10-yard run, notching the game at 7.

The rain never stopped and that created a multitude of issues, especially on long snaps. OP capitalized on one such Will North misstep. The Quakers took the lead just two plays later as Janca crossed the goal-line from 4-yards out. The PAT was missed but OP had its first lead of the day, 13-7 with just over 2 minutes in the half.

That’s when North seized back the momentum. On the ensuing kick-off, Spartans running back Marquel Wells (who fumbled his first punt-catch attempt) busted through the Quakers kick coverage for a 92 yard return. “That was a whole team effort on that play” said Wells. “Definitely a tough way to go out here but we had a great week of practice. We worked our butt off and we played till the end” the junior half-back said. Wells finished with 100 yards rushing on 13 carries. He’ll be worth keeping an eye on in 2017.

On the next OP drive Janca had a pass tipped and then picked off by Kelly at the line of scrimmage giving North excellent field position and a little over a minute of clock left before the end of the half. Two plays later Nusall completed a pass to Jason Huang in the end zone giving the Spartans a 19-13 lead.

The Spartans received the ball on the opening kickoff of the second half. I’m not exactly sure what Tundo said to the boys in the locker room at the half but OP lineman Zach Prince heard the message loud and clear. He made a key stop on a 2nd and short on North’s first possession and on the next play forced Nusall out of the pocket where his teammates wrapped him up for the sack. North went for it on 4thdown but was stopped. Momentum began to swing into OP’s favor. “We didn’t put our heads down. We came together on defense and made group tackles” Prince said.

On the Quakers next possession senior Josh Dahl capped off the drive with a 4-yard TD run. Then, after recovering a Spartans fumbled snap on 4th down OP found themselves with the ball on the Will North 3-yard line. Another junior running back, Nico Rapini crossed the goal-line two plays later giving OP a 26-19 lead.

Dahl came up with the first of 2 interceptions at 2:52 of the 4th, which led to Janca’s third rushing TD, this one was a 53-yard scramble up the middle. Dahl’s 2nd pick came with under thirty seconds remaining and helped preserve the win. “We forgot about last week real quick (loss to Niagara Falls) and got to focusing on this game” Dahl said.

OP will face the winner of Saturday’s game between Hutch-Tech and Niagara Falls.

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