2002: Warriors Reload as Players Look to Carve Own Niche

Considering the players lost to graduation in June, can this fallÞs edition of the Warriors have anywhere near the success they did in 2001?

That, of course, remains to be seen. The Warriors earned a berth in the Class C New York State semifinals behind a group of senior offensive and defensive standouts including Dustin Ross, Cameron Haines, Derrick Murphy, Aaron DeBoy and Matt Quattrone. Each was a Big 30 All-Star selection and received a bevy of other honors. Ross, in particular, collected Player of the Year awards at various levels.

Duplicating that kind of a finish, even with 13 lettermen returning, seems a tall order for Salamanca.

ItÞs also irrelevant right now, said Salamanca Head Coach Rich Morton.

"I don't think it would be fair to put that kind of pressure on young kids who are coming in behind other kids who were very successful," Morton said.

In replacing the players lost, especially in the backfield, development is the key word.

"You just have to develop new players in those positions and hope to get the most out of them," Morton said.

"YouÞve got (Mike) Liberatore, you've got Jordan Earley who may not be as big as those kids who were there but is still a good athlete."

Liberatore, a senior, was a member of last year's "Four Horsemen" backfield. He rolled up 628 all-purpose yards and scored eight touchdowns, seven on the ground.

The 6-foot-1-inch, 230-pound fullback also plays linebacker on defense. During the end of summer powerlifting sessions, when the players' maximum efforts were recorded, Liberatore bench-pressed 300 pounds, squat-lifted 430 pounds and dead-lifted 500 pounds.

Others who could see time in the backfield are senior Tommie Hogan and juniors Zack Tucker, Bobby Magiera, and Justin Hostuttler.

"Hostuttler and Magiera saw action last year on the junior varsity team and Jordan Earley was a backup to Murphy," Morton said. "Tommie Hogan's a quick running back, Zack Tucker…I don't think any of our kids have breakaway speed."

"TheyÞre just long, lanky kids and they don't have the same body types as Cameron (Haines) had," Morton said. "He was very agile, very quick."