Second-half big plays lift Salamanca to Funke Bowl win
Warriors beat Catt-LV 29-6 with two deep passes from McKenna
A trio of big plays helped vault the Salamanca football team over Cattaraugus-Little Valley and ensure a winning record to close the season Thursday.
Leading 7-0 at halftime, Salamanca scored three times in the second half on plays of 69 yards or more to roll to a 29-6 win in the Chuck Funke Memorial Bowl Class D final.
Two of the quick strikes came from the arm of freshman quarterback Lucas McKenna, who rotated throughout the game with junior Zariah Armstrong. First, McKenna hit senior wide receiver Nick Johnson in stride for a 69-yard touchdown on the second play after C-LV had cut the lead to 7-6. Leading 15-6 in the fourth, junior running back Ira John busted an 84-yard touchdown run through the T-Wolves defense and, after a C-LV three-and-out, McKenna found junior Tyler Hedlund on another deep ball for a 90-yard catch-and-run to ice the game.
John finished with 90 yards and senior Jeremiah Shoup had 28 yards including a first-quarter touchdown. Johnson had three catches for 77 yards. The Warriors’ defense produced four turnovers, all interceptions, including two from sophomore Jarrett McKenna and one each from Austin Reyes and Nick Johnson.
After a 40-0 playoff loss the Chautauqua Lake, coach Paul Haley and staff were pleased to get the Warriors a chance to finish 5-4 and send off their seniors with a win. One of six seniors, Johnson, helped spark the run on big plays to close the game.
“He's been a captain, he's a great leader for the team, but on top of that he's a great kid,” Haley said of Johnson.
“This is a kid that volunteers his time for his little brothers wrestling and football and his academics are good. It couldn't happen to a nicer kid.”
Haley thanked his seniors for helping keep the program afloat through two winless regular seasons in 2015 and 2016.
“These are kids that toughed it out the last couple years,” Haley said of his seniors. “(The win is) for the guys who sacrificed the last two years that have been a rough couple years.”
While sending off its seniors, Salamanca also hopes to have seen a glimpse of the future. Haley expects big things for the McKenna brothers, who earned some varsity playing time late in the season.