Haley sees energy in young Warriors

As the Salamanca football program turns 100 years old, its team brings back just four returning lettermen.

Looking at just those four players — three of them returning two-way starters — one might wonder why the district didn’t follow through on a cooperative agreement with another school. But first-year coach Paul Haley has a vastly different outlook on his Warriors.

Numbers have proven steady after spring signups. The mostly inexperienced team wants to put notions of mergers to rest.

Haley’s coaching staff also has impressed the importance of the team’s centennial on the youthful group.

“I’m not sure they follow it, but we’ve definitely talked about it every chance we get, (say) how important it is to the city, the program that it’s our 100th year and what kind of year we want to put forth,” Haley said. “After hearing basically since last fall about how we don’t have the kids or talent to compete anymore, and for this amount of kids to come out and stay out, be fired up, what we’re seeing in practice, I couldn’t be happier.”

Salamanca started last season with 51 players for varsity and junior varsity, but ended the year with 39. This year, Haley says he has 46 between the two teams, 27 of whom are listed on the varsity roster.

“It’s up, but the best part about it is we have everyone showing up every day,” said Haley, the former JV and Salamanca Sabers pee wee coach. “We’ve only had one kid drop off and we picked up three or four since we started. It’s going in the right direction.

“I don’t know what the change is, to tell you the truth. But they’re coming out and staying out.”

Of course, it’s not just numbers Haley has to replace. Despite its 3-5 record, Salamanca had a formidable group of senior skill-position players last year with quarterback Jared Fish, receivers Jimmie Nye and Andy Crandall, and running backs Tyler Siperek and Marcus Zaprowski.

“Last year’s team had such deep talent at the skill positions,” Haley said. “We’re not deep at the skill positions like th