The Orchard Park football team was unstoppable Saturday night. Literally unstoppable.
The Quakers scored a touchdown on every reasonable opportunity they had, turning a major early showdown in Class AA South into a statement-making rout.
Senior running back Mitch Wilson ran for four touchdowns, all in the first half, while senior quarterback Ben Holmes threw for two and ran for another as the defending Class AA state champion Quakers clobbered Clarence, 49-14.
OP ruled the line of scrimmage and dominated the game. The Quakers scored seven TDs on their first eight possessions, and the only time they didn't is when they let the clock run out in the first half when they took over with less than two minutes to go.
"The front line just absolutely dominated," said Holmes. "Coach really preached that this had to be a statement game, and I think that's what we did."
The results of Week One pointed to what many thought would be a great contest between top-ranked OP and co-No. 3 Clarence. OP had some mistakes, including three fumbles, in its first half of the season before going on to win at Lockport, 42-21, while Clarence was coming off an impressive, one-point victory over defending Section III champion West Genesee in Syracuse.
But the night, witnessed by about 1,800 at Clarence, belonged to Orchard Park.
"We wanted to prove a point, that we're the top dog still and I think we showed that," said Wilson. "It's good to put the doubters down."
The Quakers took a lead of 14-0 after one quarter was up, and 34-7 before Clarence scored in the final minute of the half to make it 34-14.
OP started the game by intercepting Clarence on the Red Devils' third play as Austin Goltz stepped in front of a Mark Armstrong pass. A short drive ended with a 1-yard run by Wilson 3:20 into the game.
OP forced a three-and-out and added a Wilson 4-yarder for a 14-0 lead with 1:28 left in the first. Wilson went in from 3 yards out in the second quarter for a 21-7 lead. A Holmes keeper from 1 yard made it 28-7 with 4:16 left in the half.
OP forced a punt and again marched in, with Wilson running in from 10 yards out, going nearly untouched thanks to tremendous blocking. That made it 34-7 with 1:57 left in the first half.
"Clarence is a very good team, but we over-willed them," said senior lineman Mike Senn. "We pushed them back. We were able to give Mitch, Ben and Jett [Modkins] all lanes. We just enjoy hitting people."
In the second, OP showed off its passing game as Holmes hit Goltz for two scores. The first was for 14 yards, finishing OP's first drive of the second half with 8:08 left in the third. Another punt yielded another OP scoring drive, this time with Holmes making a great play to connect with Goltz for 70 yards. Holmes faked a pass, rolled right, then hit Goltz perfectly down the middle for the biggest play of the night and a 49-14 lead with 4:43 left in the third.
When OP next got the ball back, its drive hit the fourth quarter and it went to some of its backups.
Clarence standout quarterback Armstrong was able to get off a few nice passes, notably touchdowns of 24 and 20 yards to junior Emaure Williams. The first touchdown came on a fourth-and-10 play early in the second quarter, the second came on a fourth-and-19 in the closing minutes of the second quarter. Otherwise, OP stuffed nearly all rushing attempts and provided steady pressure on Armstrong.
"I just thought we played well. If we keep playing well, that's the statement we want," said OP coach Gene Tundo, who also reminded his team of OP's loss at Clarence in 2010. "That was our No. 1 message to our guys. We came here two years ago and they walked away with a big smile on their face. We didn't want that to happen. We just wanted to keep our nose to the grindstone and not hold back at all."