Weekly Feature



2018-09-13 / Sports

Football team moves to 2-0 with win over Niagara Falls

TAYLOR NIGRELLI
Sports Reporter

Orchard Park was on the ropes early. They trailed Niagara Falls 6-0 and were having trouble moving the ball. There were less than nine minutes left in the second half, and they were facing a fourth down and goal from the 9-yard line.

Quarterback Jack Sharp rolled right and found Archie Bartolotti, who was running right in the end zone, and connected for a touchdown. A Tom Hollander point-after gave the Quakers a 7-6 lead, which they would never surrender. The team never looked back and rolled to a 28-14 victory to move to 2-0 on the season.

“I saw that we were getting stopped in the run earlier in the game, and we knew if we got a little play-action roll to the right, that would open up and it did,” Sharp said.

That play seemed to take the edge off the Quakers. After punting on their first three drives and having trouble moving the ball, the team went on to score four straight touchdowns to take control of the game. The running game opened up, and Sharp threw crisp passes to a variety of receivers.


Orchard Park quarterback Jack Sharp throws on the run and finds Archie Bartolotti for a touchdown in the second quarter of Friday’s 28-14 win over Niagara Falls. 
Photo by Dan NesselbushPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Orchard Park quarterback Jack Sharp throws on the run and finds Archie Bartolotti for a touchdown in the second quarter of Friday’s 28-14 win over Niagara Falls. Photo by Dan NesselbushPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com “They came out and they were playing hard, and they were really pressuring us and shooting our gaps,” Orchard Park coach Craig Dana said. “We just stayed on point and practiced what we’ve been working on all week. We were missing a few blocks, so we coached that up on the sideline. We started to get those blocks and stay with our guys. We started to do a much better job in the second quarter. Jack did a good job throwing when teams come press like that. Our receivers played great and Archie had an unbelievable game.”

The Quakers were forced to punt on their first drive, setting up Niagara Falls with good field position. Quarterback JoJo Dixon had several large runs on the opening drive, giving his team a 6-0 lead. Early in the second quarter, Brendan Hamm picked off a Dixon pass to set up the team’s first touchdown.

After forcing Niagara Falls to punt, Orchard Park extended the lead with a 1-yard Louis Irazarry run. Sharp set up the score with several big passes and a long run. The Quakers get the ball back again just before halftime on a Wolverines’ turnover on downs.

The Quakers didn’t waste any time, as Sharp completed a pass to Bartolotti, who had plenty of room to run. He would scamper 45 yards for his second touchdown of the day. The team took a 21-6 lead into the half.

“Sharp put it on the money. I just took it; I knew no one was there,” Bartolotti said. “(Jordan) Prince gave me a good block. Then we scored.”

Niagara Falls got the ball to start the second half, and the Orchard Park defense again came up big as Bartolotti picked off Dixon for his second takeaway of the day.

“Our defense played great,” Dana said. “A team like Niagara Falls is so talented, so to hold them to two touchdowns is a big task. They have guys who can take it to the house. Their quarterback, their receivers, their running backs are all good. Our defense played great and consistent.”

Niagara Falls would score again early in the fourth quarter but would not be able to find the end zone for the rest of the game. In the final quarter, they would fumble once and muff a punt. Orchard Park’s defense and special teams came up big Friday.

“Then special teams, our kickoff coverage, was awesome, our punt coverage was great,” Dana said. “We got after their punts and put some pressure on them. Our kicker, Tom Hollander, did a great job kicking off. Our coverage was great. He’s been great on our extra points all year.”

Sharp was solid for the Quakers Friday night as he went 13-22 for 149 yards and two scores. Irazarry had 27 carries for 96 yards. Bartolotti had five catches for 72 yards. Jonathan Lander had three grabs for 41 yards, while Prince had three for 32.

It was an all-around solid evening for the program, as they were able to honor former head coach Gene Tundo at halftime. Tundo, who retired from coaching the varsity team after nearly three decades this spring, led Orchard Park to just under 200 wins, 12 Section VI titles and two New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships.

Dana has been with the program for two decades and was an assistant for Tundo for six years.

“Coach Tundo was great to me my whole career here, but the last six or seven years, working with him on staff were great,” Dana said. “He’s had a great career. He’s still working in the district and he’s still coaching football for his grandson’s Little Loop team. We just wanted to honor him as soon as we could.”

The Quakers will look to remain undefeated Friday when they take on Hutch Tech at 7 p.m. The Engineers are a talented team that went toe-to-toe with Lancaster last week.

“They had a good game in their first game,” Dana said. “They were good last year. They’ve got a good football team. Their JV was really good last year. Hutch Tech is one of those teams that’s going to contend for a playoff spot.”

email: tnigrelli @beenews.com

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