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Warriors look to build on spring wins, move to C South

The Salamanca football program took a step forward in year two under coach Chad Bartoszek. Now, the Warriors face a test as they move to a higher classification and undergo changes at some key positions this fall.


Salamanca reached its first sectional championship game since 2001 in the spring, falling in the Section 6 Class D final, but faces a whole new slate of opponents as a Class C South team in 2021.


The Warriors finished 4-3 during the shortened campaign. Especially when Bartoszek considers his team’s roster limitations last year, he’s pleased with how far they went.


“I look back on it with a lot of pride,” he said. “I think there's a lot of seasons (where) you have regrets or you felt like you should have done a better job here or there, but the circumstances surrounding it just make it a prideful season. The kids were awesome. That was a great group of seniors. We kind of prided ourselves — we only had 19 varsity kids dressing or practicing here together and they were here every day. We always had the same group here. And they were good, they were tough and just great individuals.


Pictured are the returning letterwinners for the Salamanca football team after a 4-3 season last spring. Front row (from left): Tre Turner, Shawn Bacelli, Cole Hedlund, Hayden Hoag, Zaron Tucker and Lucus Brown. Back row: Kody Shinners, Jesse Stahlman, Junie Buffalo, Eion Quigley, Harley Hoag and Shawn Pierce. Missing was Austin Maybee


“If we didn't have that, we wouldn't have made it to the finals because any absentees or any long-standing injuries would have shut that team down. They just went through everything, and you couple that with the COVID stuff that was going on, it was a special season that I'll never forget.”


THE WARRIORS will need to replace two members of the Times Herald’s New York Big 30 All-Star team, quarterback/defensive back Lucas McKenna and two-way lineman Jarod White. They return 13 letterwinners, including six with starting experience, led by TH New York All-Star lineman Kody Shinners. Senior Hayden Hoag is set to take over at quarterback and play with some experienced linemen up front, a talented sophomore receiver, Lucus Brown, and last year’s workhorse running back, junior Jesse Stahlman.


“We're going to need to dress a few sophomores, but our junior and senior class is talented, they've got enough there to win some games and our expectations are high,” Bartoszek said. “Coming off last year, I think these kids are expecting to win games and not just hoping that we can compete.”


The Warriors have key returners at most position groups, but not a lot of depth, Bartoszek noted.


“Our line … Shinner’s going to be a beast, Tre Turner was a captain and he's been starting at center for three years now,” he said. “We're returning our running back, Jesse Stahlman; Lucus Brown is as good as you're going to see at the skill position, and Hayden Hoag although he didn't play at all last year at quarterback, he's been a quarterback his entire life and he's been waiting for this opportunity. I would say we're dabbling in nice, different areas; we're not flush with depth across the board, by no means, we're thin as you can get at some positions, but that's just kind of life. We're going to have to get through and hopefully injuries don't creep up on us.”


Bartoszek admitted the Warriors didn’t have the traditional offseason he likes to put his teams through. Some players and coaches took vacations after a long school year, while Bartoszek prepared to take over as the school’s athletic director. But in August, their numbers started to pick up again in time for the start of practice.


“The back end of August, we definitely had a few good weeks of kids just getting an interest back in playing football again and then, (on) opening day, we had a whole bunch of kids show up,” he said. “So it wasn't a prototypical summer; I wouldn't want to duplicate (it) next year. I think my own personal changes, I was as busy as I've ever been this summer and that might have had some effect on it, (as did) kids wanting to get away for a while. I just think it was a little slower this summer and across the board we need to be a little bit more prepared for the summer, but the fall is falling into place here.”


SALAMANCA opens its season in Springville with a non-league game on Friday. At the end of just two weeks of official practice, the Warriors will need to be game-ready.


“To be honest, last year changed the way I see things a little bit, because as a football coach you've got