New QB, new location, no problem for Salamanca
By J.P. BUTLER Olean Times Herald
On Friday night, the Salamanca football team received one of the more impressive efforts by an area quarterback to date.
But it wasn’t from whom you might have expected.
With two-year starter Maddox Isaac sidelined with a knee injury, backup Jaxson Ross, in perhaps his first-career start, more than rose to the occasion, completing 7-of-10 passes for 244 yards and four touchdowns while adding another score on the ground.
For as good as the senior signal-caller was, however, interestingly, one could argue that it was only the second-biggest storyline to emerge from this particular night in Chautauqua Lake County.
And, no, the No. 1 headline wasn’t that the Warriors won their first game of the season, beating up on Chautauqua Lake/Westfield/Brocton, 40-15. And it wasn’t that Lucus Brown, the basketball star and reigning Big 30 Player of the Year in that sport, caught three of those passes, all for touchdowns and 187 total yards.
It was that, for the first time that those of us at the TH can recall, a game was played at two different locations in the same night … and still finished in time to make the 11 p.m. weekend edition deadline.
The peculiar circumstances arose when the lights began to malfunction at Westfield’s venue, first causing a delay, then leading to a change in scenery when power couldn’t be restored. The solution was unusual, if not unprecedented locally: Pack up the teams, officials, fans, equipment, cheerleaders and medical personnel and move the game six miles down the road to Mayville.
Salamanca, by this point, was already in control, up 30-0 when the lights started to periodically shut off early in the third quarter. It followed with another TD toss to Brown, giving him scores in both Westfield and Chautauqua Lake.
And by the end, they’d boarded a bus for the third time with what coach Chad Bartoszek described as “an interesting game, for sure.”
Of the unanticipated adventure, Bartoszek told The Salamanca Press: “We have a saying when we’re departing the bus: It’s that we’re on a business trip and the trip isn’t over until the game is over. So basically it’s business mode the entire time that we’re in that situation. The mentality is that we’re not going to allow the outside factors (to affect) how we’re thinking.”
Subsequently, the fifth-year Salamanca coach and former Warriors star wasn’t terribly concerned with the uniqueness of this contest. For him, the three big takeaways were that, 1. Salamanca managed to transition so seamlessly to Ross, a Big 30 all-star baseball player from last season; 2. The Warriors overcame the injury absences of Isaac and all-star Tayoni Galante, among others, to earn a one-sided league victory; and 3. Salamanca demonstrated some resolve in bouncing back from a tough Week 1 loss to Franklinville/Ellicottville.
“Jaxson, even though he didn’t start against F/E, is very capable and we intend to use him throughout the year at quarterback either way,” Bartoszek said of Ross’ performance. “You could see how talented he is, as an athlete and as a quarterback, and we’re just trying to utilize both (his and Isaac’s) skill sets and use them as best as possible, and it was just a great game for Jaxson.
“He was able to rack up a pretty good stat line.”
For the Warriors, the win was not only convincing, but also (potentially) critical.
In other leagues involving New York-based Big 30 teams, those frontrunning positions — through just two weeks — have already begun to take shape.
In Class B1, Pioneer, as predicted, is quickly establishing itself as a buzzsaw, winning games by counts of 45-7 (over Kenmore East) and 45-12 (against South Park) to take early division control. In Class D, F/E has looked formidable once again, crushing a pair of Class C foes, while Clymer/Sherman/Panama, over the weekend, dropped Randolph to 0-2, setting up a potential collision course for the conference crown.
In Class C South, though, the race figures to be wild, wide-open and seemingly only just beginning.
Consider: A year after three teams shared the league title, including the Warriors, Falconer/Cassadaga Valley, a strong Class B2 team from 2022, came down and, in Week 2, upended co-titleist Fredonia, a sectional finalist from last fall. Additionally, Portville hung with perennial power Southwestern, falling by just a 3-0 count, and Salamanca won its league-opener.
That’s at least five teams that, presumably, will at least be in the hunt for a league title in 2023.
“It’s huge for us,” said Bartoszek, whose team will meet Falconer/CV in another key matchup this weekend. “It’s tough because in football you have to wait a whole week to get back on the field, and it was a tough week of practice, I’m not going to lie. Especially with those two or three really hot days and still trying to fight through some injuries and we just had a really bad taste in our mouth from the (F/E) game.
“So, the kids were fired up, they were pumped up to play.”