Defense, special teams help Frontier upend OP - The Buffalo News

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Defense, special teams help Frontier upend OP

AC/DC’s “Back in Black” blared before the start of Friday night’s Section VI Class AA semifinal at Frontier.

And for the first time since the heyday of heavy metal, the Frontier Falcons are back in the Sectional championship game.

Strong defense and special teams fueled Frontier’s 17-7 victory over visiting Orchard Park.

The Falcons (7-2), who have not played at Ralph Wilson Stadium since 1984, will face No. 1 seed Jamestown at 7 p.m. Saturday in the AA final.

“I’ve dreamed about it since I was a little kid,” Frontier senior A.J. Licata said. “We worked our butts off and it’s the greatest feeling in the world.”

Paul Brinkel’s 83-yard punt return touchdown in the third quarter put Frontier in front 14-7 and Adrian Cannon kicked a 28-yard field goal with 4:49 left to play.

“We had huge special teams plays,” Frontier coach Tim Myslinski said. “I don’t think anybody works special teams as hard as we do. This coming from an old special teams coordinator. We put a lot of time in, probably more than anyone else in Western New York, and it came through.”

“We set up the wall perfectly and he was off to the races,” Kenny Kahler said of Brinkel’s return up the right sideline.

Kahler scored on a 45-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7 at the end of the first quarter.

The Quakers took an early 7-0 lead on a Desean Walker touchdown run that came one play after a fumble recovery at the Frontier 16.

The Falcons had drives stall at the Orchard Park 14, 17 and 32 in the first half, but kept pushing until the Quakers defense cracked.

“No matter what happened, we kept our heads up and kept flying to the ball on defense,” Licata said.

“If we want to beat Jamestown we have to finish those drives,” Myslinski said. “Not just one, but all of them.”

Orchard Park drove down to the Frontier 3 late in the fourth quarter, but ultimately turned the ball over on downs with 1:57 left to play.

On the opening drive of the second half, Licata made a sack that knocked the Quakers out of field goal range, and Brandon Wilczewski intercepted a fourth down pass at the goal line.

“Our jerseys are black and blue and that’s how we are,” Myslinski said. “We bring our lunch pail to work every day in the slop and the mud and that helped us win this game.”

The field got muddier as the game went along, which favored Frontier.

“I’m just upset we aren’t going to be able to play on our field next week,” Myslinski said. “This mud is in our blood. I’m going to have to bring a lot of it and dump it on The Ralph.

“If there are some funky mosquitoes growing on there in a couple weeks, it’s because of the Frontier mud.”

The Falcons were the underdogs against Orchard Park, and are eager to play that role again against Jamestown.

“We love it,” Myslinski said, “and we hope everyone keeps doubting us.”

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