Throwback Feature: Salamanca finally slays Section V Goliath (1999)
Salamanca Warriors 22, LeRoy Oatkan Knights 13
ROCHESTER— The long wait is over. Salamanca is going to Syracuse.
With their 22-13 win over Section V champion LeRoy (9-2) Friday night at Rochester's Fauver Stadium, the Salamanca Warriors advanced to the New York State Final Four at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Salamanca (11-0) will face Delhi (7-4) at 7:30 p.m. Friday night for the opportunity to play in the following week's championship game.
After three attempts, and three losses in the Far West Regiona l (1993, 1996, 1998), Salamanca proved that they are among the state's elite in Class ' C this year with their come from behind win over heavily favored LeRoy.
"The kids are very excited about the upcoming trip to Syracuse," said Salamanca Head Coach Rich Morton. "These kids are ready to play football at this level. All we need to do is keep them focused throughout the week with everything that will be going on."
Kyle Miller broke free en route to a 60 yard TD run on the Knight's second play from scrimmage in the second half to give his team a 13-6 lead. Last season, Miller ran for a 80- yard touchdown on the Knight's opening play from scrimmage in the second half after Salamanca held a slim lead.
"We (the coaching staff) really laid into the kids at the half in the locker room," said Morton. "When Miller broke free at the start of the third quarter it looked very similar to last year's game when he did the same thing. But the kids never let up. They started to get very physical and they remained very poised."
"I think the game against Eden, in which we trailed at the half was a great confidence builder. Our backs were to the wall that game, just as they were on Friday night."
The turning point of the contest came late in the third quarter, as Salamanca punter Mike Potter boomed a kick 58- yards down to LeRoy's own goal line. LeRoy's offense could only muster a couple of yards on their ensuing possession as Salamanca's defense set up their own version of the 'Steel Curtain'. LeRoy was forced to punt as their kicker had a 21-yard shank which set up Salamanca's go ahead score.
The Warriors capped off their 4-play, 26-yard drive on a nice run off tackle hy bruising fullback Josh Hostuttler. Hostuttler went into the end zone unmolested from 6-yards out pulling the Warriors to within one point of a tie (13-12). On the two-point conversion, LeRoy's defense was keying on running back Chris Drugg, while quarterback Mike Potter went around the comer untouched for the go-ahead points (14-13).
"I think a big turning point of the game was when Mike Potter pinned them down at the one-inch line," said Morton. "You could see a change in the momentum. We also had several 15-yard penalties called on us, and 1 felt the kids were getting very frustrated by that. They needed to take their frustration out on someone or something."
Morton also praised his defense, "Our defense was just awesome. You can't single out one person's effort against them," said Morton.
Salamanca was not finished yet. The Warriors got another opportunity to put the ball into the end zone midway through the fourth quarter as LeRoy turned the ball over on downs at Salamanca's 46-yard line. The Warriors ate up the clock with an impressive 54-yard, 9-play drive which ended with a 2- yard touchdown plunge by leading rusher Chris Drugg. Drugg's score sent the Salamanca crowd into a frenzy as a two point conversion pass from Potter to Jason Wass virtually iced the game for the Section VI champions.
Earlier in the game, LeRoy went up 7-0 on a 23-yard run by Kyle Miller and an extra-point kick by Mark Mattice, while Salamanca's Mike Potter scored in the second quarter on a 9-minute, 15-play, 80-yard drive. Potter's score was on a nice 12 yard run but Salamanca's two-point conversion attempt failed.
"I can tell you that we'll be working a lot on our special teams this week at practice," said Morton. "We can't be mishandling balls like that."
Potter started the game at quarterback for the Warriors after sitting out all week at practice with a separated shoulder. In the second quarter, Potter was pulled by coach Morton in favor of sophomore quarterback Cameron Haines who played solid in relief of the starting signal caller. Haines eventually went out with a bum ankle and Potter was back in.
"Mike (Potter) took a hit to the thumb and I had to take him out to have it looked at. I also wanted to know how his shoulder was at the time the doc was looking at his thumb," explained Morton. "Cameron (Haines) did the job he needed to before his injury, Mike came back in and you know the rest of the story."
LeRoy running back Kyle Miller led all rushers with 174 yards on 27 carries, while Salamanca's leading ball carrier was Drugg with 47 yards on 17 carries. Hostuttler added 43 yards on six carries and Jason Siafakas had 21 yards on six carries.
Miller was named the games offensive MVP while Salamanca's Kyle Scott was named the defensive MVP.