Salamanca mourns coaching legend Whitcher

Sam Wilson, Salamanca Press

One of winningest coaches in Big 30 football history and the architect of many of Salamanca’s finest times, George Whitcher, died on Thursday.

Whitcher’s daughter, Jennifer Whitcher Hawkins, shared the news with a Salamanca Alumni Football group on Facebook, writing, “I wanted to share how much a part you have all been in my dad's life. He left the earth this morning, and is with Jesus.”

“Warrior Nation lost a legend today!” Salamanca alumnus and longtime booster D.J. Whitmore commented on the post. “He was one of the central figures in most of our young adult lives, who helped shape us into the men we are today! He will truly be missed! My most sincerest heartfelt condolences go out to the Whitcher family!”

“Jennifer, my deepest condolences,” commented Baldwinsville coach Carl Sanfilippo, son of Whitcher’s predecessor at Salamanca. “Mr. Whitcher was a great man, and had a tremendous impact on so many young people. He was and always will be a big part of my life. Prayers for your family.”

At Salamanca, Whitcher succeeded Joe Sanfilippo as varsity head coach and held the job from 1974-98. His teams went 167-59-5 for a .735 win percentage, won seven Section 6 championship seasons including in an undefeated season in 1982 (before the establishment of the NYSPHSAA state tournament). He retired as not only the school’s winningest coach, but the winningest in all of the Big 30 (a record now held by former Randolph coach Pat Slater).

Just this fall, the Salamanca High athletic department honored the 82-year-old Whitcher with a rededication of its new Veterans Memorial Park press box in his name at halftime of the football home opener against Southwestern on Sept. 10. The Warriors played a video narrated by current coach and athletic director Chad Bartoszek, who played for Whitcher, recognizing their former coach and welcomed Whitcher and dozens of former Salamanca football players at midfield during the rededication.

On Thursday, Bartoszek told The Salamanca Press the Warriors plan to honor Whitcher again in tonight’s playoff game against Lackawanna at Vets Park.

“It is a big deal obviously for the community and the school,” Bartoszek said. “In my professional position we are going to be doing a couple things tomorrow to make sure that we recognize his legacy and I'm so glad we wer