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Warriors search for progress Warriors search for progress during difficult 100th season

SALAMANCA — The 100th season of Salamanca football has been a tough one, to be sure.

The Warriors fell out of playoff contention and struggled to find a win in a rebuilding year.

This Friday, they play FranklinvilleEllicottville, one of the best small school teams in the area this season. It’s the first Salamanca at Ellicottville game since 2006, when the Eagles beat the Warriors 12-6, and the first meeting between Titans coach Chad Bartoszek and his alma mater.

The struggles in 2015 were predictable, given the mass of seniors occupying the 2014 Warriors and the lack of varsity experience stepping into big roles. New coach Paul Haley had to turn to underclassmen and older players who had not played before.

Early on in the season, Haley referred to history as an example for his inexperienced group.

At a Sept. 10 dinner honoring the 100th anniversary of Salamanca football, Haley told a story of his 1993 Warriors. Haley made the Big 30 All-Star team as a linebacker for George Whitcher in what may have been considered a down year.

“We had three returning starters going into my senior year,” Haley said. “No one expected us to do much. We didn’t have much coming back. We lost our first game but then we went on a little run and got ourselves into the playoffs. We played undefeated Newfane in Newfane, had a big goal-line stand in the fourth quarter.”

The win sent Salamanca to the Section 6 championship against Gowanda at then-Rich Stadium. At Media Day, though, the TV crews talked only with the Panthers’ players, not giving Salamanca much of a chance after losing 20-0 in the regular season.

“They had a big meeting room and the Section 6 head said, ‘Does anyone have any questions about anything?’ A kid from Gowanda stands up and goes, ‘So after we beat Salamanca, who do we play next?’” Haley recalled. “I just remember I’ve never wanted to get up and punch somebody in the face in front of all these people. I’m looking at coach (Whitcher) and I think he’s going to beat me to it.

“There was not a word said from the time we left Rich Stadium the whole car ride home. We get to practice and he said, ‘Paul, I want you to walk out there and explain to our team what those (ex