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1999: Salamanca rides unbeaten run through FWR, state semis (Part 2/3)

(Editor’s note: This is the second in a three-part weekly series on the 1999 Salamanca football season, which culminated in the program’s first state championship game appearance.)

After showing dominance in a 40-12 playoff-opening semifinal victory over Eden, it was time for the Salamanca football team’s second rematch in as many weeks.

The 1999 Warriors, coached by Rich Morton, faced Mike Wilber’s Allegany-Limestone Gators in the Section 6 Class C championship at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Having knocked off A-L, 21-7, in Week 2, the Warriors left little doubt this time with a 38-12 triumph, even withstanding an injury to quarterback Mike Potter.

Potter threw an 86-yard touchdown pass to Jason Siafakas in the second quarter and the Warriors never trailed. His backup, Cameron Haines, shined after the injury, throwing a touchdown pass and running for two more.

Morton recalled getting a hard time from Bob Nugent, a longtime phys ed teacher and coach at Salamanca on the following Monday for his use of the spread offense.

“I get into the office and he starts giving me the business,” Morton recalled. “He’s yelling at me, ‘What are you thinking about, Morton?’ I said, ‘What Bob? We won the game.’ He said, ‘Are you crazy?’ I said, ‘What are you talking about Bob? I thought the kids played well.’ He says, ‘Never in the history of Salamanca football has there ever been an empty backfield.’”

Nevertheless, the Warriors were on to face a familiar boogeyman in LeRoy, which had ended sectional championship seasons for Salamanca in two of the previous three seasons in the Far West Regional.

BUT THAT’S when “we got the monkey off our back,” Morton said, with a 22-13 win at the University of Rochester.

Trailing 13-6 entering the fourth quarter, a pair of touchdown runs by Josh Hostuttler and Chris Drugg, accompanied by two-point conversions, put the Warriors ahead for what The Press deemed “the biggest win in school history.” It was Salamanca’s first regional victory in its fourth try (preceded by 1993, ‘95 and ‘98).

“Of course the emotions were high that night,” Morton said. “I can still remember we were losing at halftime (7-6). And I remember going in, we made some adjustments, we talked to the kids, we had settled down, and I remember coming back with Josh, we gave him the ball for the go-ahead score later on in the game (14-13 after a two-point conversion).”