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A Salamanca Guy

Bartoszek Returns Home To Coach His Alma Mater

SALAMANCA — It’s been about 10 minutes since afternoon practice has ended and Chad Bartoszek, understandably, has places to be.

The Warriors have about an hour in between sessions and Salamanca’s new head football coach has to grab dinner, complete an interview with the media and make an appearance at a late-summer picnic all before getting back to the high school for an evening workout.

But Bartoszek first takes care of a little housekeeping.

One player who skipped out on practice a day earlier is waiting to put down some pushups as punishment for his mistake.

You see, the pushups may not mean anything on the field during the third quarter of a Week 7 game against Franklinville/Ellicottville with playoff positioning on the line, but they mean something to Bartoszek, who hopes to reinvigorate the Salamanca program.

P-J photo by Matt Spielman

The former star has always been a Salamanca guy. And he wants to make a difference in the small Cattaraugus County city.

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Bartoszek grew up in Salamanca and starred on the gridiron for legendary Warriors head coach George Whitcher.

Whitcher roamed the sidelines of Veterans Park for 25 years from 1974-98 and during that quarter-century, Salamanca went 167-56-4. Whitcher’s teams appeared in 14 sectional championship games — tied for second with Jamestown, just two behind Orchard Park’s 16 — and won nine titles, which is also tied for second with the Red Raiders and Lackawanna, two behind the Quakers’ 11.

Salamanca’s football tradition grew under Whitcher with Division IV-V titles in 1982 and 1984; a Division VI-VIII crown in 1986; and Class C championships in 1990, 1993, 1996 and 1998.

Whitcher’s final year just happened to coincide with Bartoszek’s senior year. The star tight end caught 29 passes for 614 yards and a school-record 13 touchdowns that fall, helping the Warriors win the Section VI Class C championship with a 24-7 victory over Eden. Their careers would come to an end a week later with a 28-16 loss to LeRoy in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Far West Regional. Bartoszek was named a New York State Sportswriters Association Class C First-Team All-Star at defensive end.

“You had to live up to a standard and it was a lot of pressure,” Bartoszek said recently in between late-August afternoon practice sessions at the high school when asked about playing on those Salamanca teams. “The older guys always made sure we were held accountable. … I just remember it being very tough and disciplined.”

The Warriors went on to claim sectional titles in 1999 and 2001 while Bartoszek went on to a productive four-year career on the field at the University at Buffalo.

“When you come back, you start to remember how things used to be,” Bartoszek said. “You learn a lot as a high school football player. Playing under George Whitcher, Rich Morton and Ralph Tomblin, you just had to be a Warrior at all times.”