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Salamanca, Randolph/Frewsburg seeking road playoff victories

Salamanca may have capped its regular season with a thrilling 23-21 victory over Maple Grove a week ago, but the Warriors hope they haven’t shown the Red Dragons their best.

The victory tied the Warriors and Red Dragons in the Section 6 Class D standings at 3-3, but Maple Grove kept the second seed based on adjusted point differential (plus-33 to minus-44). Thus Maple Grove (5-3) hosts tonight’s sectional semifinals (7 p.m. in Dunkirk) against the Warriors hoping to avoid a repeat of a week ago.

Just how much can Salamanca take from that game, given that coach Paul Haley acknowledged he didn’t want to show too much knowing he’d meet the same team in the playoffs?

“Hopefully it translates pretty good,” Haley said of his team’s Week 8 success. “But I just hope the kids come in and play with the same confidence we finished the game with. We started the game a little slow that first quarter and it's kind of been our problem all year. If we come in right off the bat and play like we can, I think it's going to be a good game.”

That being said, Haley expects a “fired up” Maple Grove team.

“After the way they handled us the first game (49-22 at Salamanca in Week 3), maybe they were overlooking us a bit,” he said, “so this time I'm sure they're going to be ready. They've got some really good athletes over there. I'm sure those guys are going to be pumped up and ready to go this week.”

After a 1-3 start, Salamanca is now 4-4. Playing home-and-homes with its three Class D opponents, Haley knew Salamanca would face a difficult schedule with the likes of Clymer/Sherman/Panama, Maple Grove and non-league games with Olean and Franklinville/Ellicottville, who the Warriors would split against.

“It's definitely the direction we wanted to go,” Haley said of how his team finished the year. “I think we had probably one of the tougher schedules around, especially for being a D. Two teams in our division are ranked in the top five of the state for most of the year. So that's tough, plus our non-league we had Ellicottville, who is tough every year, and we had a B school in Olean. Then every game we played with Cattaraugus(-Little Valley) has been a one-score game for the most part.

“We knew coming in it was going to be a tough year and we just had to get rolling at the right time. We talked about all year, no matter what we did, it boils down to the playoff game.”

Maple Grove’s 21 points in Week 8 were its second-lowest of the season. Quarterback Carson Crist and running back/receiver Easton Tanner lead a potent offense.