ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.-It's hard enough to win state championships in football. It's even harder to do it in back to back years. That's exactly what Orchard Park looks to do this season.
Some were questioning if they were still the team to beat as Jamestown defeated them earlier this season but they proved to be up to the task in the rematch for the Section VI Class AA title. "We just wanted to prove that we're better than them and I think we did," says senior running back Mitch Wilson, who had 276 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the victory.
"It was just real good redemption to show how good we really are," says senior running back and defensive back Jett Modkins.
"It was a huge win for us," says Head Coach Gene Tundo. "Our kids, they really earned it."
These are players who have battled for their chance to play which isn't easy to come by with the talent pool in Orchard Park.
"It keeps you on your toes, you can't ever sleep on anybody so you just really come out prepared and you have to put your best foot forward every week," says Modkins.
"I've been playing football since like seventh grade, so to finally be able to start as the Orchard Park running back it's awesome. It's a dream come true," says Wilson.
The next step towards repeating goes through Aquinas this Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Far West Regionals at All High Stadium. Aquinas is representing Section V and is new to Class AA after previously being in Class A. A big part of beating Aquinas will most likely be Orchard Park's ability to stop running back Billy Lombardi, the same way they shut down Jamestown's Da'Qwan Hollingsworth.
"He's a lot like our running back. He's bigger, but he runs hard. Their offensive line is big and they're tough," says Coach Tundo. "We definitely respect this team and I know they're very good." "He's a great running back too, don't get me wrong, but I want to show that I'm better," says Wilson. "I think I showed I was better versus Hollingsworth (Jamestown) and Chambers (Lockport) so I want to show that I'm better than Lombardi."
The Quakers look to make their school and their community proud on their quest to repeat as Class AA champions.
"Our town expects us to win the states again so it's a lot of pressure," says Wilson. "Each game does get harder but I think we get better each practice. I think we can win states again and I think we're going to do it."
Kickoff is scheduled for 6-pm Saturday evening at All High Stadium in Buffalo. You can see the game via live stream here on wny.highschoolsports.net with Stu Boyar and Jonah Javad handling the play by play and Dick Gallagher providing color commentary and analysis.