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Craig Dana appointed as OP football coach

Craig Dana knows he has big shoes to fill. Orchard Park's new football coach welcomes that challenge.

Dana was appointed as Quakers pilot during Tuesday night's school board meeting.

He succeeds longtime coach Gene Tundo, who stepped down after 24 seasons as varsity coach during the winter.

Tundo, who won nearly 200 games, led the program to 14 Section VI championships and two New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA championships (2008 and 2011).

"Obviously taking over the program after Gene Tundo is big shoes to fill but I had the opportunity to work closely with Gene the last five or six years learning as much as I can from him," said Dana, who teaches eighth-grade math in the OP school district. "I'd rather do this than take over a program that didn't have high expectations or standards."

Dana isn't a stranger to the program. He's been with it for the past 17 years, serving as defensive coordinator since 2012.

Dana, 42, is a Kenmore West graduate and Buffalo State graduate, where he played football. He's a member of the Buffalo State Athletic Hall of Fame.

Though the specific number of candidates for the job hasn't been revealed, the Orchard Park job is considered one of the marquee gigs in Western New York.

"We had a strong candidate pool," OP athletic director Dave Hack said. "(Dana's) an outstanding choice for our program."

Dana said his coaching staff will consist of familiar faces Chuck Senn and Mike Cieslik -- who moves up to varsity after serving as junior varsity head coach. Dana said the Quakers still need to get the junior varsity and freshman team coaching staffs solidified. He's excited about freshman football returning to OP for the first time in two years.

OP was young last season, posting an uncharacteristic 4-5 record -- its only season in which it finished with more losses than wins under Tundo.

However, the Quakers have some returning talent in the fold, along with solid reinforcements from JV and modified who helped those respective teams to good seasons.

"When I was offered the position I was honored and excited," Dana said. "I look at this as a pretty big responsibility but at the same time where would you rather coach than Orchard Park."

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