Who: Orchard Park Quakers (11-1) vs. I-New Rochelle Huguenots (10-1)
What: New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA football semifinal.
When: Today, 6 p.m.
Where: Carrier Dome, Syracuse.
Tickets: $10 for three-game session.
Television: Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.
Buffalo News large school poll: Orchard Park No. 3 (previous poll was Nov. 6).
New York State Sportswriters Association Class AA poll: Orchard Park No. 3 (up from No. 8), New Rochelle is No. 2 (up from No. 7). Canisius is No. 1.
Orchard Park at the Dome: 2-0. Defending AA champion making third trip in the last five years. Beat IX-Monroe-Woodbury, 21-17, in 2008. Beat Newburgh, 21-13, last year.
New Rochelle at the Dome: 1-3. Lost to Jamestown, 33-7, in 2000. Beat V-Webster Schroeder, 32-6, in 2003. Lost to III-Syracuse CBA, 41-35, in 2004. Lost to North Tonawanda, 14-7, in 2009. Ninth state playoff appearance, all in the last 13 years.
Where’s New Rochelle? The city of about 75,000 is in Westchester County, just above New York City’s borough of the Bronx. The city was settled in 1688 by refugee Huguenots (French Protestants) who were fleeing persecution in France (thus the school’s nickname). The school referred to as “New Ro” is the champion of Section I, which also includes Dutchess, Putnam and Rockland counties.
Coaches: Orchard Park, Gene Tundo, 19th season (170-27); New Rochelle, Lou DiRienzo, 22nd season (96-14 since 2003).
How they got here: Orchard Park got a crucial interception from senior Austin Goltz late in the third quarter and huge ground games from Mitch Wilson (178 yards, four TDs) and Ben Holmes (175 yards) in a 26-14 semifinal victory over state No. 3 Christian Brothers Academy of Syracuse (Section III). No. 7 New Rochelle jumped to a 20-0 lead on previously undefeated and state No. 1 Shaker of Section II (Albany area) in its semifinal and held that advantage until the final minute of the third quarter; Shaker stormed back to take a 21-20 lead with 1:45 left; the Huguenots then scored with 30 seconds left for a 28-21 victory.
Orchard Park key players: Sr. QB Ben Holmes, 5-11, 175; Sr. RB Mitch Wilson, 5-9, 180; Sr. RB/DB Jett Modkins, 5-11, 190; Sr. WR/DB Austin Goltz, 5-10, 170; Sr. WR Raphael Paglei, 6-0, 185; Sr. LB/TE Connor Eddy, 6-1, 220; Jr. LB Tucker Gamble, 6-0, 220; Sr. LB Bobby Akinyele, 5-11, 200; Sr. DL/OL Christopher Sanfilippo, 5-11, 220; Sr. OL/DL Michael Senn, 6-3, 300; So. DB Jacob Dogal, 6-1, 180.
New Rochelle pre-snap read: Joe Clarke, a 6-foot-1, 202-pound senior TE/DE, was the hero of the semifinal, making a big catch on the last-minute drive for a 19-yard gain, then catching a 12-yard pass for the go-ahead touchdown (ninth of the season), then sealing the game with a last-second interception. The leader of the game-winning drive was Sr. QB Khalil Edney (6-3, 171). New Rochelle also has Sr. Jason Ceneus (5-8, 170) in the backfield; he has run for about 400 yards, as has Edney. Senior Ahmad Encarnacion (5-10, 165) has caught four TDs. Huguenots have six shutouts and have given up 62 points all season, with 21 coming last week and 21 coming in their only loss of the season. North Bergen (N.J.), which went 5-5 in a state that has high school football that is considered superior to New York’s, scored all of those points in the fourth quarter of a 21-20 victory Oct. 20. Sheer numbers may pose a problem for the Huguenots, whose roster has 35 players compared to Orchard Park’s 62, and whose line will be outweighed by OP’s.
Today’s other games: The Class C and B games will also be broadcast on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel. Section V (Rochester area) champion Hornell (12-0), which beat Cleveland Hill in the Far West Regionals, seeks its fourth straight state title and 52nd straight win when it meets II-Hoosick Falls (12-0) at noon. Maine-Endwell (12-0) of Section IV (Binghamton area), which ousted Alden last week in the semifinals, seeks its second straight title (it won Class A last year) when it meets II-Glens Falls (11-1) at 3 p.m.
At buffalonews.com: Live blog with play-by-play coverage of Class AA final; comment in the blog or via Twitter using the hashtag #preptalkscores. A PrepTalkTV video recap will follow.
— Keith McShea