2021 Player to Watch: Orchard Park QB Ben Gocella


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — Orchard Park quarterback Ben Gocella had a breakout season in his sophomore campaign. In his first year under center for the Quakers, Gocella completed 95 passes for 1,110 yards and 15 touchdowns and helped lead OP to their second straight Section VI championship game appearance.

“I mean, it was quick jumping into everything but I really can’t thank the seniors from last year for helping me out, especially my offensive line, receivers, everything. It was really a good experience, and I’m glad we had a good year last year,” Orchard Park quarterback Ben Gocella said.

“We were doing a lot of things on the fly last year but from day one all the way until our season ended, we gave him more responsibilities and he just met all of our expectations,” Orchard Park coach Craig Dana said. “Understanding pass protection, understanding the plays, making some decisions pre-snap and post-snap that really took advantage of some of the things the defenses were doing against us. We move right from those seven games into the summer, and we’re real excited about the team we have coming back.”

In the last few years, Orchard Park has been lucky to have three-year starting quarterbacks consecutively, and it looks like the luck continues with Ben Gocella.

Even after an 18-month break in between his freshman season as the quarterback of the JV team to his sophomore season on varsity, Ben stepped into the starting quarterback role with ease.

“It was like two weeks just learning plays, really had to focus and make sure I was on top of my game. Usually I have a whole summer to learn everything but it was two weeks and I was right into it but I was happy with how everything went, and I’m just excited to get back on the field,” Gocella said. “I can already tell right now that I feel more confident right now, even in summer workouts, and that’s just going to keep building and building until the season starts.”

“He’s just a really intelligent football player. He’s really humble and hardworking, he doesn’t get real emotional when he does something great or when he does something poorly, he’s just always trying to learn,” Coach Dana said. “We started off with all our players because we had such a long break and weren’t allowed to do anything, so we paired everything down, tried to keep everything simple, then as the season went, we were able to add wrinkles into plays, add some different responsibilities into our offense.

“With that, we were able to start off slow and then really build as we got through all seven games.”

The second high school football season of 2021 is right around the corner. The Quakers open up on the road at Jamestown in week one.

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