As far as Orchard Park football coach Gene Tundo is concerned, Jamestown's loss to Clarence last Saturday doesn't take away any of the luster from the Division I showdown between OP and Jamestown slated for 2 p.m. Saturday at Strider Field.
If anything, Tundo thinks the loss will serve to fire up the Red Raiders when his Quakers pay a visit for this key early-season tussle.
"They're going to be ready to play this game like the Super Bowl," Tundo said of Jamestown. "I was surprised at the way they lost to Clarence because they don't usually make a lot of mistakes."
The Red Raiders fumbled five times in their opener, uncharacteristic for an offense that usually operates like a well-oiled machine. Equally surprising was that star running back Aaron Leeper had four of the fumbles.
"He won't do that again," Tundo said of Leeper. "He has tremendous speed and my main concern is keeping up with him. Our defense is going to have to do a great job to contain him because he can kill you."
Red Raiders coach Wally Huckno said holding onto the ball may not be enough to help his team against Orchard Park, which opened its season with a 12-0 win over West Seneca West and has won four of the last five meetings with Jamestown.
"To me, we're completely outclassed," Huckno said. "They are very big and strong on the line and they have some solid backs. West Seneca West had no offense at all against them.
"This is not a good Jamestown team, not like some we've had in the past. We can't compete with the likes of Orchard Park and St. Joe's, at least not off what I've seen so far."
OP's defense is led by ends Ryan Thomas (6-3, 280) and Brian Ries, with Greg Campbell and Sal Palermo at linebacker. Nick Campanile, at safety, has a knack for intercepting passes.
Palermo and Campanile also will handle most of OP's offensive load on the ground.
"If we can't run the ball, we won't beat them," Tundo said.
Linebacker Aaron Olson leads the Jamestown defense, along with end Sheldon Battle and 6-3, 270-pound tackle Shawn Williamson.
Murray for the defense
He didn't score a single point, but senior defensive end Alex Murray played a huge role for Williamsville South in a 28-25 season-opening win at Albion.
Murray, 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds, was a dynamo for the Billies as he had four quarterback sacks for 53 yards, had 10 tackles, forced a fumble and recovered one.
His biggest play came with 1:50 to play and his team clinging to its three-point lead after watching Albion rally from a 21-0 deficit.
On first down from the South 48-yard line, Albion quarterback Pat Fitzsimmons dropped back to pass. Murray charged through the line and laid a massive hit on the quarterback, knocking the ball loose. It was recovered by the Billies' Pete Cranley and South ran run out the clock.
"He's pretty agile and he can really hit," South coach Mike Kelly said of Murray, an outstanding student who will be attending Cornell next year. "He's a good kid, but he's got a wry sense of humor. I always tell him he talks too much, but he sure can play football."
Take two aspirin . . .
Football coaches are accustomed to dealing with the usual assortment of injuries that affect their players. The aches, pains and sprains are a part of everyday life on the gridiron.
At Cleveland Hill, however, coach Dennis Mason feels like he has taken an accelerated course in communicable diseases.
The Eagles' top running back, junior Eric Everett, played sparingly in Saturday's season-opening 21-20 loss to Wilson, but he wasn't himself. He was still feeling the effects of the chicken pox.
Everett's spot in the starting backfield was taken by regular quarterback Myron Lee, who scored a touchdown and ran for a two-point conversion. Lee was doubtful earlier in the week as he was suffering through a bout with a flu bug that also hit other members of the team.
"This wasn't the way we wanted to start the year -- shorthanded," Mason said. "Hopefully, all the illness is gone now and we can concentrate on football. I feel like I need a medical degree."