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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Orchard Park Football Ready For Another Championship Run

There’s a giant bulls-eye on the back of the Orchard Park High School football team as the Quakers look to defend their latest Class AA Section VI championship. But that target is nothing new to OP and veteran coach Gene Tundo, annually amongst the elite large-school programs in Western New York.

As always, everyone will be looking to take down the Quakers this season and despite a tough schedule, Orchard Park will be ready for the challenge.

“Just like the Patriots, after a while people just want us to lose,” said OP coach Gene Tundo, who is entering the 23rd year of his remarkable run with the Quakers. “Teams are after us but we don’t think about that, we just want to practice hard and do what we can do.”

That’s worked well for many years in Orchard Park. OP secured the latest of its Section VI championships last fall and is largely considered a favorite to repeat that crown in 2016.

It starts under center for the Quakers, who have a third-year starter at quarterback in Dillon Janca. He threw for 2,434 yards and 23 touchdowns as a junior – and could actually be better as a senior.

“He’s obviously had two great years for us and he’s throwing the ball even better for us this year,” Tundo said. “We’re expecting great things.”

Senior Josh Dahl is also expected to be an impact player on both sides of the ball. He will be the featured running back and also a standout in the secondary on defense and Tundo said: “We’re expecting him to have another incredible year.”

Up from, the offensive line for Orchard Park will feature standout left tackle Dan Kubik, who stands at 6-foot-7 and 315 pounds.

Defensively, Orchard Park will feature 6-foot, 215-pound senior defensive tackle Zach Prince and 6-foot, 175-pund linebacker Nico Rapini – as well as Dahl, who is regarded as one of the best defensive backs in Western New York.

“We’re going to be tough on defense,” OP defensive coordinator Craig Dana said. “We’re not very large, but we’re fast and we can get to the football. We play teams that could come out and run the ball 80 percent of the time and we play teams that run empty (backfield, looking pass-first). We have to be ready for it all. And we’ll be ready.”

The Quakers may be in their accustomed spot as the division favorite but OP also understands Class AA South is as tough as it gets in Western New York. The Quakers open at home on Friday night against Rochester power Pittsford before enduring the grind of Class AA South.

“Pittsford, that’s a good contest to get us ready,” Tundo said, “and then from there we want to stay healthy and keep getting better. Our league is tough. Jamestown always a challenge, Frontier is good, Lancaster is stacked this year, there’s a lot of talent in our league.”

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