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Salamanca Beats F/CV/MG Days After Player’s Father Passes


Sports Writer

Darren Ross passed away Wednesday at the age of 43 after a four-year battle with Glioblastoma brain cancer.

As a teenager, Ross was an integral part of some of Salamanca’s more successful football teams of the mid- to late 1990s. More importantly, as an adult he was a teacher, counselor, coach, friend and husband to Melanie as well as a father to Charli Mae and Jaxson.

On Saturday night, the Warriors had a football game.

Just three days after his father’s passing, Jaxson — a senior quarterback on the team — insisted on playing. Falconer/Cassadaga Valley/Maple Grove's Bradyn Fuller looks for room to run during Saturday's Class C South football game against Salamanca at Veterans Memorial Park in Salamanca. P-J photo by Tim Frank His dad would be proud. Jaxson ran for a second-quarter touchdown and put the game away with a touchdown pass in the closing minutes as Salamanca beat Falconer/Cassadaga Valley/Maple Grove 25-7 in a Class C South showdown at Veterans Memorial Park.

“I’ve held it in all week. That’s special. Holy cow,” said Salamanca head coach Chad Bartoszek, a teammate of Darren’s on those teams in the ’90s. “The emotional side, being here on this field, recognizing the situation, it’s something I’ve never experienced before.”

The Warriors took control of the game with three scores over the span of less than six minutes late in the first quarter and early in the second.

Salamanca drove 57 yards in six plays on its first drive of the game, which was capped by a 24-yard touchdown pass from Maddox Isaac to Lucus Brown on third-and-9 with 3:09 left in the opening quarter. The Herd went three-and-out on its next drive and gave the ball back to the Warriors on the 7-yard line after a bad snap on a punt. On the very next play, Ross powered into the end zone for a 12-0 lead with 49 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

“First and foremost, it was ‘Are you good with this? Are you ready to play football? It was a resounding ‘Yes,'” Bartoszek said of his conversations with Jaxson late in the week. “He needed a couple of days this week to breathe and get his head right. He came back Thursday and he wanted this to be his safe space.”

” … We didn’t use it as the motivator. I think we all just felt it. It wasn’t a big ‘Win one for Darren’ speech. We just knew it, we just felt it,” Bartoszek added. ” … (Jaxson) wanted to be here and he felt comfortable, that was most important. Man, you saw him on the field. You see what he’s got and what he has inside of him.”

Another Falconer/Cassadaga Valley/Maple Grove three-and-out gave the ball back to Salamanca on its own 38-yard line. Six plays later, Isaac scored on a 1-yard plunge. That short touchdown was set up by a 38-yard halfback pass from Arlen Newark to Brown on first-and-10 from the 39-yard line.

The Warriors had three would-be touchdowns nullified by penalties on their final full drive of the first half, which allowed the Herd to remain in the game. Falconer/Cassadaga Valley/Maple Grove took advantage on its first drive of the third quarter, marching 54 yards on seven plays, capped by a 4-yard touchdown pass from Lucas Sopak to Bradyn Fuller to make it 18-7 after Rider Carlson’s point-after kick.

The teams then exchanged turnovers three times in the middle of the second half before Ross capped his emotional night with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Brown with 3:36 remaining in the game.

“Anyone who says football isn’t special isn’t magical, man. This is proof tonight,” Bartoszek said. “It just brings something out of everybody. I’m just proud to be here and proud I got a little piece of this game.”

While Ross was a part of two touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball, Zach Trietley — wearing the No. 44 that Darren Ross wore — was Salamanca’s leader on defense with 12 tackles and a sack.

“I gave Trietley a big hug,” Bartoszek said. “Wearing No. 44, he did it right tonight.”

Before Bartoszek even addressed his team near the end zone following the game, he had them pose for a photo in front of the scoreboard, which fittingly displayed a portrait of the Ross family.

“I’m hesitant to just use Darren’s name in all these different ways,” Bartoszek said. “I’m just going to leave it because we all felt it. We know what happened tonight.”

NOTES: Isaac led Salamanca with nine carries for 48 yards and JT Auman had 10 carries for 47 yards; Isaac completed seven passes for 105 yards; Brown caught four passes for 77 yards and Newark caught three for 39 yards; the Warriors committed eight penalties for 60 yards. … Charlie Reichenbach led Falconer/Cassadaga Valley/Maple Grove with nine carries for 43 yards; Sopak completed eight passes for 40 yards; the Herd committed seven penalties for 50 yards. … Kolden McCall and Ross were the Character Athletes of the Game for their respective teams.

Falconer/Cassadaga Valley/Maple Grove 0 0 7 0 — 7 Salamanca 12 6 0 7 — 25

Sal–Brown 24 pass from Isaac (run failed) Sal–Ross 7 run (pass failed) Sal–Isaac 1 run (run failed) F/CV/MG–Fuller 4 pass from Sopak (Carlson kick) Sal–Brown 7 pass from Ross (Newark kick)


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