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Alumni: Callen gets the call as new A-L football coach

ALLEGANY — There’s a connection among the three new high school football coaches in Cattaraugus County.

Chad Bartoszek (Salamanca), Jason Marsh (Franklinville/Ellicottville) and Tom Callen (Allegany-Limestone) each played at Salamanca, where they were Big 30 all-stars for legendary coach George Whitcher.

If that’s not enough, Bartoszek and Callen succeed fellow Salamanca alums Paul Haley and Paul Furlong, respectively, while Marsh takes over for Bartoszek.

“We’re all from the same era of that golden era of Salamanca football,” said Callen, approved June 4 as A-L’s coach. “I could call Allegany a soccer town. They love soccer here. They bleed it. In Salamanca back in the ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000s, they really bled football.

“I don’t know if it was the town or what, but we had an excellent coach, we had someone who we could model ourselves after. Ultimately, you have to love the sport. You certainly don’t do it for the money but you need to love it, and I think the guys that played at Salamanca really, truly loved the game of football so they just wanted to continue it and keep on coaching.”

But the 43-year-old Callen never expected to be a varsity head coach. He spent the last two years on Furlong’s staff at A-L.

“And I had every intention of just being another assistant until news broke that he was leaving,” Callen said.

Furlong was hired as a physical education teacher at Salamanca, where he will be an assistant football coach. With the Gators, he had a 24-43 record in eight seasons over two stints (2008-09, 2013-18).

Callen’s son, Thomas, is a senior-to-be at A-L and started at quarterback as a junior.

“I’ve coached these boys since they were in peewees, so I know all of them, I’m familiar with all of them,” said Callen, who is employed by Eaton-Cooper Power Systems. “It just made sense to continue on and see what we can do this year.”

Callen inherits a program that has just one winning season and one playoff win in the last 10 years. Last fall, the Gators went 2-6 in an injury-riddled campaign. Callen’s son suffered a broken arm in Week 1 and A-L started 0-5.