2001: Olean, Salamanca, Pioneer Seek Football Titles
For Rich Morton and Larry Slanovich, it's almost old hat by now.
Morton, the head football coach at Salamanca Central School, and Slanovich, the longtime coach at Pioneer, have both made it to the Section 6 championship game in each of the last three years.
For Mike Kane, things are a little more new. The Olean High School coach is in the title game for the first time since 1995.
But all three coaches are equally excited about playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium this weekend.
Its always exciting, Slanovich said. Your team changes every year, so for the players, its exciting. And, this is still only the third time we've made it here.
Salamanca takes on Eden in the Class C title game tonight. On Saturday, Olean High battles Southwestern for the Class B championship, while Pioneer meets Iroquois for the Class A title.
Here's a look at the games:
TONIGHT'S GAME - Eden (9-0) vs. Salamanca (9-0), 8:30 p.m.
Morton has led the Warriors to this game in each of his first three seasons as head coach. But last year's trip wasn't one to remember, as Cleveland Hill shocked Salamanca, 34-32.
This year, the Warriors again bring a 9-0 record to the title game, and Salamanca once again is led by its solid ground game.
Dustin Ross leads Salamanca with 1,178 yards rushing and 26 touchdowns this season. Quarterback Cameron Haines has 1,023 total yards and 10 touchdowns on the year, Mike Liberatore has rushed for 504 yards and seven scores and Derrick Murphy has 521 rushing yards.
They've got an awesome running game, said Eden coach Ed Meyers. They've got four awesome backs in Murphy, Ross, Liberatore and Haines. We've got to get our offense clicking and keep the ball out of their offense's hands.
Eden, though, has a pretty good ground game of its own. Keien Williams rushed for 1,234 yards and 17 touchdowns this season to lead the Raiders.
They've got some nice size up front, Morton said. Phil Gosner's a nice quarterback. They've got a nice group of kids that's capable of scoring easily if they're not contained.
This is Salamanca's fourth straight trip to Ralph Wilson Stadium, and its fifth trip in six years.
Also, in each of the past three seasons, the Warriors have beaten Eden in the playoffs.
2001 Section VI Championship - Salamanca vs. Eden Highlights