Bartoszek earns All-WNY Coach of the Year
Clevis Murray, Buffalo News
After consoling his team following a season-ending loss in the state semifinals, Salamanca football coach Chad Bartoszek emerged from the locker room and stood outside for about 10 minutes reflecting on the season while holding back tears at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
Bartoszek had every reason to shed a few tears if he wanted.
He coached the Warriors (10-3) to their first Section VI championship and New York State Public High School Athletic Association semifinal appearance since 2001.
And he did it at his alma mater – he is a Class of 1999 graduate who was on a sectional title team as a senior.
And in his hometown – he is raising his family in Salamanca just as he was raised there.
He coaches the sons of his former teammates and in a town of less than 6,000 people where high school athletics is like college football in the South and everyone gets behind the teams.
Bartoszek has been named The Buffalo News Coach of the Year as part of the 66th annual All-Western New York football teams. His coaching staff included Greg Herrick, Aaron Hill and Paul Furlong.
“Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been able to reflect and I’m very proud of our community, school, and players,” Bartoszek said. “I think we had a real special season and I’m appreciative of what took place and all of the hard work that went into it. Obviously, this is never a one-person job and it takes everybody, from our players, their parents, and coaching staff. It was such a community effort. It was a great run and I have a ton of pride and appreciation.”
A couple of weeks into the season, the team faced tragedy when Bartoszek’s former teammate, Darren Ross, died at the age of 43 following a four-year bout with Glioblastoma brain cancer. Ross is the father of Salamanca quarterback/linebacker Jaxson Ross.
“The season was heavily impacted by the loss of Darren, and we got motivation from who he was as a human being,” Bartoszek said.
Salamanca handed Medina its first defeat of the season to become sectional champions, then beat Le Roy with six seconds left in the Far West Regional, and had its season ended two wins shy of a state championship by Waverly.
After the Warrriors' Far West Regional win, the Williamsville South field was left covered in confetti, glitter, and streamers for the following games thanks to the celebration by Salamanca's fans.
“This community and district will support anything,” Bartoszek said. “They love the positives and gathering together. This season, with the hardship and turmoil that went on with the community, they were just looking for something and when we got hot towards the end of the year, the fanbase picked up. Small town anything can be awesome and it’s a lot of work.”
Bartoszek would be in the store and other customers would tell him, “The season is going great. Let's go Warriors.”
In his five seasons as Salamanca’s coach, he said that type of support was something he had never experienced. His wife, Denise, would tell him how the community gathered behind the team based on her in-person and social media experiences.
“Everybody was talking about us and I never experienced any of this as a coach to this level,” Bartoszek said. “My wife gave me more perspective on this type of stuff when she tells me, ‘You have no idea how excited the community is.’ When the touchdown was scored against Le Roy, people were hugging people they didn’t even know or would normally hug.
"I have so much pride in my staff and team that we were able to put together a run that benefitted the community. I think we represented ourselves very well with our pride.”