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Post Journal - Bartoszek’s Team Faces Adversity In Big Win

SALAMANCA — At halftime of Friday night’s Class C South football game, a golf cart carrying George Whitcher made its way around Veterans Park before settling near midfield, facing the press box that bears his name.

An announcement on the public-address system invited any of Whitcher’s former players in attendance for Salamanca’s showdown with Southwestern to join him on the field where they could greet the legendary coach and have a group picture taken with him.

The special moments were just beginning for the Warrior alumni, although Salamanca head coach Chad Bartoszek (Class of 1999) couldn’t have predicted it after his quarterback, senior Hayden Hoag, went down with a knee injury. Two plays later, Southwestern’s Aidan Kennedy scored the game’s first touchdown.

That put Bartoszek in a dilemma.

Who would take the snaps from center for the rest of the game?

Jesse Stahlman, Salamanca’s top running back, was the first choice and he acquitted himself quite well, connecting with Cole Hedlund on a game-tying 15-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter.

But when Kennedy threw a perfect 8-yard pass to Cam Lemk in the left corner of the end zone and Neves Hoose booted the extra point, Bartoszek found his troops staring at a 13-6 deficit with 2:48 remaining.

He had another decision to make.

Although Bartoszek doesn’t like to play freshmen in a varsity game, he needed someone who was comfortable throwing the ball, given the fact the Warriors needed to go 70 yards for a touchdown. The young man he called on was Maddox Isaac, the only ninth-grader on the roster.

“It was time,” Bartoszek. “We wanted to get to overtime. We could have run Jesse every play. Once they scored, we had to open it up.”

On the first play of the drive, Isaac completed an 8-yard pass to Jason McGraw.

On second down, Isaac threw incomplete, but his 8-yard run on third down gave Salamanca a new set of downs at its own 46.

Isaac was just getting warmed up.

On the next play, he threw a dart to Hedlund that, after the catch and run, resulted in a 48-yard gain to the Trojans’ 6. Two players later, Stahlman — back at running back — bulled his way across the goal line for the score, cutting the deficit to 13-12 with 13 seconds remaining.