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Big 30 notebook: Salamanca hoping to build off surprise win

Courtesy JP Butler - Olean Times Herald

SALAMANCA — For Paul Haley, it was the metaphorical carrot at (or, in this case, near) the end of the tunnel.

From the beginning, his Salamanca football team has faced one of the toughest schedules in the Big 30, and perhaps the most challenging of any local squad at the lowest class level in either New York or Pennsylvania.

Included on the Warriors’ gauntlet of a slate this year:

— Two games with defending New York State Class D runner-up Maple Grove.

— Two games with Class D league favorite Clymer-Sherman-Panama, which currently ranks No. 9 in the Western New York small school rankings.

— A non-league contest against Class B Olean High.

— A non-league matchup with Franklinville/Ellicottville, a Class D power every year since its merger in 2014.

Salamanca has taken its hits, previously dropping three in a row by an average of 23 points to fall to 1-3. But it’s also survived them, recently winning two straight for the first time under Haley, including Friday’s head-turning, 24-12 upset of Olean High.

Haley described the victory over the Huskies as the biggest in his four years with the program. It probably supplanted Allegany-Limestone’s close Week 4 loss to Southwestern as the most surprising effort by a New York Big 30 team this season.

What could that performance do for the Warriors heading into the final two weeks of its regular season and playoffs?

“It gives them the confidence to know that they can play like that,” Haley said. “We hadn’t really played fired up like that at all; we hadn’t played with that spark. I thought we did that on Friday, so hopefully they realize ho