ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.-As Orchard Park gears up to defend its Class AA Championship on Saturday against New Rochelle the excitement of playing for the state title has not disappeared.
"Thinking last year that someone would tell me we were gonna be here again; it's unbelievable," says senior defensive end Christopher Sanfilippo. "We have put in the work and we're just reaping the benefits of everything we've been doing."
"Last year was a great feeling but I feel like this year is our last go," says linebacker Connor Eddy when referring to the senior class. "And I feel like it'd be a great time to go back-to-back because our school has never done it."
The Quakers are aware of the opportunity to make history but Head Coach Gene Tundo has been more focused on getting better every week.
"I was just thinking about getting better and taking little baby steps. I really wasn't thinking about the end of the year."
"As the year has been going on our defense is progressing, getting better each week," says Eddy.
Orchard Park knows they aren't the same team from 2011 but like the challenge they've had to face this season.
"We've faced tougher opponents this year. Last year we were undefeated and we were just the dominant team in the state and everyone knew it," says Sanfilippo. "This year we have been beaten and teams have shown us our weaknesses and we've come back and shown our mental character and our mental toughness."
That mental character will be put to the test one more team this season in the championship game against a tough New Rochelle team.
"I think they just come after you," says Coach Tundo. "They have a very good nose-guard; I think that dictates a lot of what they try to do."
"They're definitely a well coached team and they've had six shutouts. That's huge," says Sanfilippo. "Our offense is one of the most productive in the state but we're definitely going to have our work cut out for us."
"They run a two tight end set which is in my mind scary," says Eddy. "It's something we haven't seen before."
With as much character as this team has shown over the 2012 season you can expect the Quakers to leave it all on the field on Saturday.
"I feel like a lot of the players rely on this sport because they love it so much," says Eddy. "They're just going to miss it and I know that being a senior I'm going to miss it."
"We know what playoff football is like. We know what it takes to win," says Sanfilippo. "We know we're ready. We know we could do it. All we got to do is show up on Saturday and do what we do."
Orchard Park will play New Rochelle on Saturday, November 24 at 6-p.m. at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.