Bartoszek returns home, hopes to push Warriors out of 'comfort zone'

SALAMANCA — Chad Bartoszek made a big change to step out of his self-described “comfort zone.” He hopes his new players can do the same.

Bartoszek had found a nice routine at Franklinville/Ellicottville, and built a consistent small-school winner between the two schools. He knew his fellow coaches and his players from six years on the job at Ellicottville, and the players came up learning how to play as Titans in his system. But now, as he returns back to where his football career started — his hometown and alma mater high school — Bartoszek sounds eager to take on a new challenge and develop those relationships again.

“It’s exciting for me as a coach and being back in some familiar places and being around the things that I grew up with,” he said. “It is an exciting time. But you also have some of the discomfort that you got used to. As a coach going into my seventh year, at Franklinville/Ellicottville I was getting into a groove, comfort zone, I felt really good about what we were doing and where we were going and you just get into a nice place from where you start building, building and all of a sudden you start to see things are just working the way that you want your program to work.”

Building new relationships will take time.

“It comes from practice time to picture day to game week and the kids get used to you and you get used to the kids, but when you have to redo it all and start from scratch, it’s a challenge,” he said. “It’s a little uncomfortable. But like I said, it’s exciting because it is a challenge.”

Salamanca returns 11 letterwinners under new head coach Chad Bartoszek. Front row (from left): Jarrett McKenna, Lucas McKenna, Dylan Wheeler, Tre Turner, Carter Stoltz. Back row: Ezra Stahlman, Kawliga Stahlman, Kody Shinners, Zach Cotter, Coby Ledsome. Missing from the photo was Justin Nichols. (Sam Wilson/Olean Times Herald)

Bartoszek inherits a program that made gains in the last two seasons, posting .500 or better regular seasons in Class D under coach Paul Haley (now the Warriors’ JV head coach). Last year’s Warriors graduated a big senior class, including Big 30 All-Stars Tyler Hedlund and Ira John, but 11 letterwinners including four starters return.

After splitting time last year with then-senior Zariah Armstrong, rising junior Lucas McKenna gets his chance to impress as Salamanca’s quarterback. McKenna, who will be helped by his older brother, senior Jarrett (wide receiver/defensive back), should have similar responsibilities to the mobile playmaking quarterbacks Bartoszek coached at F/E.