Ross, Brown duo lead Salamanca football to rebound win
By SPENCER BATES Sports Editor, Salamanca Press
MAYVILLE — Salamanca football won its first league game of the season over Chautauqua Lake/Westfield/Brocton, a dominant bounce-back after their first week loss at home.
The Warriors had their name written all over the game as they cruised through the first half without allowing an opposing score. It wasn’t until after a change of scenery (moving from Westfield to Chautauqua Lake), made necessary by momentary power outages, that the Thunderbirds got on the scoreboard. However, it was still too little, too late for the home side.
In the first week of the season, Salamanca dealt with a number of worrisome injuries, most notably one to starting quarterback Maddox Isaac. This made the practices that led up to the weekend fixture between the Warriors and Thunderbirds that much more difficult, not to mention a heat wave that shook things up as well. With all of these obstacles faced, Salamanca coach Chad Bartoszek said this made the win that much more impactful.
Jaxon Ross drops back in search of an open receiver. He had 244 passing yards in the game.
“It’s huge for us,” he said. “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 (Franklinville/Ellicottville) game. So, the kids were fired up, they were pumped up to play and it was an interesting game for sure.”
With Isaac sidelined for the game, recovering from his injury that Bartoszek anticipates as day-to-day, It was Jaxson Ross at the helm for the Warriors and he wasted no time finding his groove.
In the first quarter, Salamanca striked on a four yard touchdown run by Zach Trietley and Ross threw a 24 yard pass to Arlen Newark that put the Warriors up 12 with no response from the Thunderbirds. On the day, Ross recorded 244 passing yards on seven completions in the game and earned high praise from his coach.
“Jaxson, even though he didn’t start against F/E, he is very capable and we intend to use him throughout the year at quarterback either way,” he said. “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.”
Part of the reason for his great stat line was the help he got from wide receiver Lucus Brown who, despite having only three catches on the night, recorded 187 yards. The connection between the two was most evident as the game entered the second quarter. Brown found his way into the endzone twice in the quarter, both coming on over 50 yard plays started by Ross who also found the endzone himself on a quick two yard run. The duo left an impression on Bartoszek who praised their ability to eventually find that connection and exploit it.
“In the passing game, it’s just sometimes a split second,” he said. “So early early on in the game, we missed two passes and Lucus was getting a little frustrated and I think Jaxson was as well. But, once you connect and you start to feel it, you saw throughout the game, they were in sync.”
After the second quarter was when the game found itself halted momentarily as the lights at Westfield went off and on sporadically. The game was quickly moved to Chautauqua Lake and while only a short drive down the road, presented the issue of how the teams would react. The Warriors, spurred on by their game day mindset, refused to let it get the better of them.
“We have a saying when we’re departing the bus,” Bartoszek said. “It’s that we’re on a business trip and the trip is not 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.”
As the game got back underway in the third quarter, Brown and Ross refused to let a change of venue rattle their golden link. A 73 yard touchdown run by Brown off the back of a Ross pass, put Salamanca up 37-0. However, the Thunderbirds shook off the blow quickly and returned the ensuing kickoff for their first score of the game to make it 37-7.
Newark recorded a field goal for the first score of the fourth quarter, but a rushing touchdown from the Thunderbirds’ Jordan Joslyn would be the last of the game as the Warriors won 40-15.
On their 48 total plays of the game, Salamanca recorded 387 total yards compared to the Thunderbirds’ 144 yards. The 244 passing and 143 rushing yards by the Warriors were miles ahead of those of their hosts who didn’t reach triple digits in either stat category.
Salamanca returns home to play Falconer/Cassadaga Valley/Maple Grove on Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. Ahead of the game, Bartoszek is focussed on getting his players back to full health with the extra day in hand on the schedule while at the same time, having his players prepare for “a battle.”