CLARENCE, N.Y. – – The Orchard Park Quakers are notoriously known for playing at New Era Field in their hometown of Orchard Park. The Quakers and the stadium that houses the NFL’s Buffalo Bills are only separated by four miles, and is an annual milestone Gene Tundo and his team hopes to reach. Following the Quakers’ 34-18 win over the Clarence Red Devils on Friday night, the Quakers are going to play in a sectional championship game for a Section VI record 17th time.
Josh Dahl was the primary force for the Quakers on both sides of the football in the victory. Dahl didn’t have the best offensive game, but his 62-yard rushing touchdown late in the 4th quarter helped pad his stats. Dahl, with the assistance of the long touchdown run, finished the game with 144 yards on 15 carries (an average of 8.5 yards per touch) and found the end zone twice. Defensively, Dahl found the end zone after intercepting Clarence’s Jack Putney and returned it 86 yards to the house.
“I read the quarterbacks eyes and returned it back for a touchdown,” Dahl simply said about the pick six that turned out to be the game winning score. “I give all the credit to the coaching staff, they made a great call.”
Not only was Dahl the key contributor on defense, Solomon Brown also was an extremely huge defensive threat for the Quakers. Brown finished the game with 14 tackles, two of which were for a loss, while adding a 16-yard interception return. Pat Sulivan was a defensive menace in the Quakers win adding 10 tackles (seven solo, three assisted), along with one sack and two tackles for loss.
“It has been a long year, the kids have worked hard and have responded unbelievably,” Orchard Park legendary head coach Gene Tundo said following the win. “The guys have improved over the last two weeks after starting the season off with a tough schedule.”
Clarence’s offense has been a no-huddle, fast paced machine this season and that did not stop in the game against the recently stingy Orchard Park defense. Clarence mustered 80 plays in the loss, including 48 rushing plays (17 of which came from Putney, the Red Devils quarterback).
Putney, a sophomore, showed signs of being a younger quarterback going up against a defense that has had its fair share of success. However, Putney did have some flashes of impressive play, which will translate into big things as he continues his high school career donning the Black and Red at Clarence High School. Putney finished going 13-for-32 in the air, tossing for 161 yards, two touchdowns, and throwing a less than optimal five interceptions. On the ground, the 6-foot-1 sophomore mustered 60 yards on the ground in 17 attempts.
“I have tremendous faith in him. The future is definitely bright for Jack,” Clarence head coach Mark Layer said. “Some positive thinking is that he played as good of a defense as he faced tonight. He needs the experience in situations like this.”
Orchard Park (6-3) will be making its third consecutive appearance and sixth time in the last seven years at New Era Field when the Quakers will do battle with the undefeated Lancaster Legends (9-0) on Saturday (Nov. 5) at 3:30pm. Lancaster won the only regular season meeting, 42-35, in Week 5 (Oct. 1) at Orchard Park.
“It’s an exciting time to play where the Bills do,” Coach Tundo said. “We live there, it’s our hometown. It’s an exciting place to play a championship.”