Orchard Park head football coach Gene Tundo has been named the Buffalo Bills and National Guard Coach of the Year after his Quakers beat Newburgh Free Academy 21-13 to win the New York State Class AA championship at the Syracuse Carrier Dome last week.
"We made big plays in our passing game when we had too," Tundo said. "We didn't turn the ball over which was crucial."
This season, the Quakers were the favorite to win the Section VI Class AA title before pre-season practice even started. It was also no secret that the Quakers were legitimate contenders for a state title.
"It's never easy," Tundo said. "The teams we played were outstanding. You have to have things work out your way. We had a couple of injuries but the kids kept plugging along. They kept battling all game long and all year long."
This is Orchard Park's second New York State championship. The Quakers also won in 2008.
"It's just an incredible feeling," Tundo said. "Anytime you win a state championship it's awesome. The first time, we were in uncharted territory and I didn't really know what to expect. This time, it felt new all over again. We had a new bunch of guys. It's really hard to describe how happy and excited I am for the kids and for our community."
The Quakers' three-game run through the NYS tournament wasn't a breeze. OP trailed Rush-Henrietta of Rochester, NY 28-14 in the 4th quarter of the Far West Regionals and were looking at an early end to the season. But, Tundo switched the Quakers from the Spread into the Big Cat offense. James Fitzgerald stepped into the quarterback spot and the Quakers scored three touchdowns in the 4th quarter to pull out a win.
"Rush-Henrietta had a ton of talent," Tundo said. "We came right at them and took control of the game. We hadn't used that offense so I don't think they saw it coming. They really had no idea what we were doing."
The Quakers also used the Big Cat in the New York State title game. With Orchard Park leading 7-0, Fitzgerald moved to quarterback and the Quakers began to pound the ball. Orchard Park stretched the lead to 21-0 before holding off a Newburgh rally.
"It was a crucial part of our attack," Tundo said. "It's like a change-up. The other team is ready for a Spread Offense and all of a sudden we come straight at you. It can be tough to stop."
Tundo has led Orchard Park to 10 Section VI titles, more than any other school in Western New York. The Quakers have played at Ralph Wilson Stadium 13 times in his 17 years as OP's head coach.
Each week during the 11-week high school football season a committee appointed by the Buffalo Bills selected a high school football head coach as the Buffalo Bills & National Guard Coach of the Week. Each honoree received a $2,000 donation to their high school football program from the Buffalo Bills Youth Foundation and New York National Guard. The eleven finalists were also eligible for the Buffalo Bills & National Guard High School Coach of the Year Award where an additional $2,000 grant for their high school's football program is given.
As a result of Tundo being named the 2011 Buffalo Bills & National Guard High School Coach of the Year winner, the Quakers football program will be given the $2,000 awarded by the Bills and the New York National Guard.
The Buffalo Bills and National Guard congratulate all of the Coach of the Week winners and also congratulate the Orchard Park Quakers high school football state championship winners.
Bills & National Guard Coach of the Week Winners:
Week 1: Steve McDuffie, Bennett Tigers
Week 2: John Faller, Sweet Home Panthers
Week 3: Dennis Gilbert, St. Joe's Marauders
Week 4: Jason Marsh, Salamanca Warriors
Week 5: Dick Diminuco, Alden Bulldogs
Week 6: Rick Tomm, North Tonawanda Lumberjacks
Week 7: Kraig Kurzanski, Williamsville South Billies
Week 8: Rich Harris, Kenmore West Blue Devils
Week 9: Jay Sirianni, Southwestern Trojans
Week 10: Gene Tundo, Orchard Park Quakers
Week 11: Jerry Smith, St. Francis Red Raiders
2011 Bills & National Guard HS Football Coach of the Year:
GENE TUNDO - ORCHARD PARK QUAKERS
Bills & National Guard HS Football Coach of the Year Winners last four years:
2011: Gene Tundo, Orchard Park Quakers
2010: Tom Goddard, Clarence Red Devils
2009: Jay Sirianni, Southwestern Trojans and Eric Jantzi, North Tonawanda Lumberjacks
2008: John Faller, Sweet Home Panthers and Curt Fischer, Maple Grove Red Dragons