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Salamanca’s Lee, Furlong face off as assistant coaches in NCAA playoff game

In 1979, they shared a high school field as teammates, Mike Furlong a sophomore, Pete Lee a senior for the Salamanca Warriors. But for more than two decades, they've either coached together or, mostly, against each other at the college level in Southern Pennsylvania.

This Saturday (12 p.m.), the friendly coaching rivalry takes on more importance in the NCAA Division II football playoffs. West Chester University (8-3), seeded fifth and PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) West champions with Furlong as its defensive coordinator, visits No. 4 seed Shippensburg (10-1), where Lee is an assistant coach for the offensive line and kickers.

West Chester, which lost the PSAC championship 24-7 last week, handed Shippensburg its only loss, 37-27 in October. Matchups between Lee and Furlong’s schools are a constant in the PSAC since Lee arrived at Shippensburg in 1997 after working at West Chester with Furlong.

“His dad was very involved in youth sports, so our families have known each other for as long as I can remember,” Lee recalled of his friendship with Furlong. “We worked together for five years at West Chester, so we generally talk during the season and compare notes on the teams we're playing and have played, except when we're going to play.”

Salamanca native Mike Furlong is in his 25th year as defensive coordinator at West Chester University, which opens the NCAA Div. II playoffs Saturday at Shippensburg, Pa. (West Chester University photo)

Mike Furlong, brother for Allegany-Limestone high school coach Paul, played at Salamanca from 1979-81, starting with Lee's senior year. Lee, who played at SHS from 1977-79, played offensive line and graduated from Cornell. Furlong graduated from Canisius College, where he played wide receiver.