1999: Players recall makings of Salamanca’s dominance (3/3)
(Editor’s note: This is the last in a three-part weekly series on the 1999 Salamanca football season, which culminated in the program’s first state championship game appearance.)
With a coaching change for the first time in 25 years, the players remained a rock Salamanca’s new football staff could rely on in 1999.
Coach Rich Morton’s first season, replacing Salamanca legend George Whitcher, saw the Warriors ready to contend right away. With 13 seniors, Morton inherited a tight-knit group intent on doing what no Salamanca team had done before.
“Dating back to when we started weight training, we would get down at the end of weight training … (then) we’d go outside and do our agility drills,” said Seth Hostuttler, a senior two-way lineman on that team. “Right from June, we put our hands in the middle and broke down as ‘state champs,’ ‘state champs,’ because that’s what we wanted.”
While the Warriors finished one game short of that goal, losing 32-20 to Edgemont, clearly they were right to dream big. By winning the Far West Regional and NYSPHSAA Class C semifinals, Salamanca won two games that it never had in program history.
So what set this team apart? While undoubtedly talented and deep, egos didn’t get in the way for this group, several 1999-00 seniors said.
“THE THING I remember most is that there wasn’t many superstars,” said Jason Wass, a senior tight end/linebacker that year. “Everyone was really good at their job. We didn’t have many holes at all. I believe we had only two guys that weren’t seniors starting both ways. So we were very experienced, a lot of guys played before with the ‘98 team in the playoffs and things like that. But it was the best, most complete team that I was a part of.”