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First day of practice: Orchard Park (with video interviews)

Just back to One News Plaza from a stop out at Orchard Park, home of one of Section VI's most dominating programs and the defending Class AA state champion.

I stopped by for the end of OP's three sessions, which focused on offense and special teams. I talked with head coach Gene Tundo and senior quarterback Ben Holmes, who played wide receiver last year.

Here are video interviews from my talks with both:

OP certainly has some top players back from last year's team. While Holmes moves from receiver to quarterback, he has a top threat in fellow senior Austin Goltz, who was a playmaker at WR along with Holmes last season.

Senior Michael Senn is back to anchor the line. Other returning seniors include multi-tasker Chris Sanfillipo, who saw time at H-back and tight end as well as defensive tackle; Ralph Pagliei at receiver and Mitch Wilson at running back. Adam Belica returns to the line after starting as a sophomore.

OP also had several transfers come in from out of state, said Tundo. Among the key contributors are expected to be two junior lineman, Dawson Hillis and Kyle Brewer. Hillis is "as big as Senn," Holmes said, referring to the 6-3, 270-pound Senn.   

Eric Jantzi, the former outstanding North Tonawanda coach, ran several drills at the end of practice. Jantzi moved from OP's JV to varsity late last season and he's a varsity assistant this year, along with Buffalo State Hall of Famer Craig Dana (a Kenmore West grad), longtime OP coach Chuck Senn and 2002 OP grad Todd Ellman.

"I think we have one of the best coaching staffs we've ever had. I'm excited about this group," said Tundo. "Eric is an outstanding coach, one of the best coaches in Western New York. He's a genius at the option. He knows every aspect of the game, and I'm lucky to have him." 

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.

@KeithMcSheaBN |