Dillon Janca throws a pretty ball.
The Orchard Park junior quarterback proved he could do that last season so long as he received time in the pocket.
He received plenty of protection Friday night at Quaker Field and that proved to be bad news for Kenmore West as OP routed the Blue Devils, 28-0, before an estimated 2,000 on opening night.
Janca threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns and also called his own number on a read-option play for a late 1-yard score in the third quarter as last season’s Class AA runner-up served notice that it will be a tough team to beat as usual.
“Dillon made some incredible throws, right on the money where only our guy could catch the ball,” Quakers coach Gene Tundo said. “Our line blocked well. We struggled running the ball but when you pass that well …”
A team still has a chance to win, and OP did just that because Janca picked apart the Blue Devils’ man-to-man defense throughout the first half. He was at his best in the first quarter in which he completed seven of his first 11 passes for 155 yards and a 51-yard touchdown to a wide open Chris Liberatore.
That wasn’t even his best pass of the day. That came on OP’s first offensive series with the Quakers facing third and 13 at West’s 17. Janca lofted a pretty, high arching pass down the left sideline to a spot where only Jacob Schurr could catch the ball despite good coverage by the Blue Devils. There was another throw earlier in the series like that to Joe Losardo, a 34-yard gain, two plays prior to the completion to Schurr.
“I honestly think I have the best group of receivers in Western New York,” Janca said. “I trust every single one of them to go up and the catch the ball. I may not make the best throw but I can trust them to go up and make the play.”
That’s true, but Janca’s being a bit modest. His second-best throw came late in the second quarter when he hit an in stride Kevin Koziol for a 13-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone to make it 21-0.
“I called that play,” said Janca, one of two audibles that led to TDs according to Tundo. “I just thought we had the matchup. The line gave me the time I needed. … He went up and made the play when we needed it.”
“There quarterback made some great throws in the first half,” Ken West coach Rich Harris said. “There skill players were a little bit better than ours. … Those were all man coverages. That was the game plan, but they won” those battles.
Janca correctly called his own number on a 1-yard keeper off an option read with 5 seconds left in the third after Paolini had rushed for most of his game-high 67 yards on that drive.
He completed two more throws to keep the chains moving and milk the clock in the fourth quarter before sitting out the final four minutes.
“He’s got a great handle on our offense,” said Tundo of Janca, an All-WNY honorable mention pick last season. “It was a good first game.”