There are do-everything football players. Then there’s Avon’s David Orlando.
Orlando kicks off and punts, returns kicks and punts, kicks field goals and extra points, runs the ball, catches the ball and stops opponents from catching the ball.
He might even be willing to drive the team bus if asked.
“My favorite thing is just football,” he said. “I love making plays on both sides of the ball, putting through field goals and extra points and putting the kickoffs in the end zone. I love everything about it.”
Orlando does all those things about as well as anybody and his value is evident by the fact he never leaves the field. He’ll play an important role tonight when the Eagles face Akron Hoban in a Division II state semifinal.
“Dave, quite honestly, is a kid that’s special,” Avon coach Mike Elder said. “He’s a slot receiver. He’s explosive. As a corner, he’s our best guy, lockdown guy and he punts and he kicks. He truly does it all. He would definitely be one of the considerations for our most valuable player.”
The start of last week’s game with Southwestern Conference rival Olmsted Falls set the tone for the 55-14 win. The Eagles stuffed the Bulldogs on a three-and-out and quickly scored with Orlando catching passes of 4, 30 and 7 yards.
He then ran an end around for 9 yards to the Olmsted Falls 4-yard line. A procedure penalty only delayed the inevitable as Ryan Maloy scored on a quarterback draw from 8 yards out.
“They’re handing it to me on some jet sweeps and I’m loving it,” said Orlando, who finished with six receptions for 88 yards and a pair of rushes for 11. “Whatever I can do to get in the end zone.
“Every single time I get the play call and I know it’s me, Coach Maj (Ryan Magyary), our receivers coach, will give me that look and we’ll just smile at each other. He starts nodding, I start nodding … I already know it’s going to be a good play.”
Orlando has had a huge hand in Avon’s 10-0 regular season and subsequent playoff run. He has 59 receptions for 699 yards and four touchdowns. He’s run the ball 14 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns. He’s kicked three field goals and 54 point-after kicks to lead the team in scoring with 99 points.
On defense, Orlando has 32 total tackles — 15 solo. He’s leads the team with four interceptions and has six pass defenses.
Last week, Orlando sent four kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. He averages nearly 40 yards a punt (38.6).
“Against some big-play teams, that have big-play players, putting it in the end zone is a big deal,” said Orlando, who is getting some looks from Mid-American Conference colleges. “Coach Elder loves it when I put it in the end zone. We’re always celebrating when I put it in the end zone.
“It sets up the defense perfect. The defense has been (in) shut-down (mode) the past few weeks. We’re getting ready for Hoban.”
Elder said Orlando has worked on his kickoffs.
“Week 1 against Merritt Island down there in Florida, we darn near lost the football game because we weren’t putting the ball in the end zone,” Elder said. “We were kicking it to the wrong person and we were struggling with that.
“Dave put it upon himself to improve every week. He’s got his groove back and he’s put some balls in the end zone when he has the wind at his back. When he doesn’t, he does a good job of placing the ball where we want it.”
Orlando, who played youth soccer, has always had the ability to kick the ball a long way. He’s transformed that ability to the football field.
He credits former University of Cincinnati kicker Tim Fife with his kicking prowess, having worked with Fife on technique.
Despite all he does, Orlando just wants to be part of the team.
“I’d say there’s no really main person in our offense,” he said. “We play as a team and that’s why we’re pretty good this year.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.