1982: Warriors and Salamanca go all out for championship tilt
By PHIL AMELEE
Press Sports Editor
Buses have been chartered, tickets purchased and signs prepared as the community of Salamanca readies for tomorrow's Section VI Football Federation playoffs at Rich Stadium.
Salamanca will he making its first appearance in the fourth year of the championships as the Division VI champs will take on Division V titlist Depew (7-1 overall) at 3:30 p.m. in the third of five championship tilts.
The Warriors grabbed the division title with a perfect 7-0 record and finished at 8-0 overall for the school's fourth unbeaten season. A win tomorrow would give Salamanca its first 9-0 season.
The Warriors were not one of the preseason favorites but quickly made all take notice with a 16-14 battle-in-the-trenches win over highly touted Dunkirk and then disposed of Fredonia the following week by 28-12 to eliminate the toughest teams.
Salamanca then dumped Gowanda by 30-13 and ended the regular season with shutouts by 42-0 over Falconer and 20-0 over Olean.
Salamanca, though, is not the only community target involved in post-season excitement as Little Valley will kick off tomorrow's schedule with an 11 a.m. date against Panama.
Little Valley won its first championship in more than 20 years with a 6-0 mark in Division X (6-2 overall) and takes on defending champion Panama, the Division IX winner at 8-0.
Leading the Panthers is head coach Dick Heidrick with Brad Weitzel and Al Watt as assistants. Those three played football under Whitcher at Salamanca and adding to the Salamanca flavor will be Jamestown head coach Joe Sanfilippo.
Sanfilippo takes his 7-1 Red Raiders, the Division I winners, against Division II champion Clarence (7-1) in the finale set for 8 p.m. The other games have Medina (8-0) taking on Cassadaga Valley (5-3) at 1:15 p.m. while Lewiston-Porter (7-1) goes against Wilhamsville South (7-1) at 5:45 p.m.
The Salamanca Warriors, with the day off from school yesterday because of Veteran's Day, went through their longest practice of the season.
"This was our first long workout," said Whitcher, "as we practiced for three hours. We were not mentally sharp towards the end due to the long session. We had been practicing so well during the year," he added, "that we have had short practice sessions and yesterday's workout was a little different for the rhythm we had established."
But Whitcher said his squad is ready as halfback Joel Whitcher and end Mac MacLeod will return after injuries. Whitcher was injured in the win over Fredonia and got in against Olean last week on defense while MacLeod was injured against Gowanda and has not played in two weeks.
Whitcher had rushed 33 times for 237 yards and had scored 18 points while MacLeod had caught 14 passes for 355 yards and six touchdowns.
The loss of almost 600 yards in offense is a blow to almost any team but the Warriors were able to compensate as halfback Chris Krantz has rushed for 496 yards in the last four games while quarterback Todd Heidrick has completed 16 of 29 passes for 316 yards and six touchdowns in the last four outings.
The Warriors speed, both at back and end, is one of the major strengths of the team of which Depew coach Frank Constantino is aware.
"Salamanca plays a wide-open game," he said last night, "and they score a lot of points. I am very impressed with their multiple offense and we will have to try and stop Krantz while we have got to contain that quarterback."
Heidrick completed 59 percent of his passes (42-of-71) for 825 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 208 yards on 58 carries.
The Warriors have scored 33 touchdowns and 14 have come through the air with 17 by rushing, one by interception and one by punt return.
That balance of rushing and passing has not been apparent the last few games, with the absence of MacLeod, but Krantz has more than offset that with his four straight 120-plus rushing games.
The senior did that without backfield mate Joel Whitcher to help him but the emergence of backs Carl Agnelli, Dave Zariczny, Mike Whitcher, Todd Titus and Ed Dry the last few games has complemented Krantz.
Those five backs have stepped in to gain 241 yards in three games while Heidrick has added another 148 from his spot.
Heidrick has thrown only 22 times but has completed 11 for 248 yards and four touchdowns in the last three games due to the emergence of his other receivers.
Jim Knaus has caught four for 73 yards and a touchdown while Krantz has been the receiver four times for 120 yards and two scores with Mike Cotton catching three for 37 yards and another score.
Eight-game totals show MacLeod with 14 catches for 355 yards and six touchdowns while Knaus has caught 12 for (illegible) yards and three scores and Krantz eight for 169 yards and three more touchdowns.
The Warriors have six with more man 100 yards rushing as Krantz has carried 121 times for 866 yards, Joel Whitcher 33 for 237, Heidrick 58 for 209, Zariczny 26 for 146, Mike Whitcher 20 for 127 and Titus 26 for 108.
Krantz leads the team in scoring with 74 points followed by MacLeod with 38, Heidrick 27, Knaus and Agnelli 22 each and Joel Whitcher 18.
The Warriors accumulated 233 points while holding eight foes to 58 and are the top-ranked squad in the small school division of the Buffalo News Football Poll.
Depew is ranked third in that same poll and has scored 183 points while giving up 72.
The Wildcats played Monday night against Lancaster, a traditional rival, and will have only four days rest between games. "We got some bumps and bruises in that game," said Constantino, "so we have a couple of kids who are question marks. The thing that has hurt the most has been lack of time for game preparation. We may have been looking ahead a little but we got a couple of breaks to win (20-0)."
Like the Warriors, Depew is adept at running and passing while containing on defense as they also have two shutouts - against West Seneca West and Lancaster.
Quarterback Chris Payne has thrown for eight touchdowns, including seven to split end Rich Harych, and has been helped by junior halfbacks Dan DiPmo and Carlo DiRjenzo and fullback Tony Gorskt.
Depew is making its second playoff appearance as they lost to Springville in 1980.