ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — Salamanca claimed its first Section VI Class C title since 2001, defeating No. 1 seed Medina 36-23 Friday afternoon at Highmark Stadium.
“I’m just so proud,” Salamanca head coach Chad Bartoszek said. “It’s everything … This community is special and just getting this for them, it means everything.”
A back-and-forth first half saw the Warriors (9-2) trailing the Mustangs (10-1) 16-14 at halftime, but it was a two-play, third-quarter sequence that shifted the game in their favor for good.
After a field goal put Salamanca up 17-16, on the ensuing Medina drive, Cory Holleran picked off Mustangs quarterback Julian Woodworth on fourth-and-1 to set his team up with quality field position four minutes into the third. On the next play, Maddox Isaac took a shot down the sideline to Lucus Brown, who made a spectacular one-handed grab in the endzone to extend the Salamanca lead.
“It was a play that I think sparked our team,” Bartoszek said. “We kept answering, that was the key. There wasn’t a moment to allow [Medina] to dictate.”
The Warriors run a two-quarterback system, with Jaxson Ross and Isaac both getting opportunities throughout each game, and the duo was key Friday. Isaac and Ross both tallied a rushing and passing touchdown to propel their team to a title.
“We’re brothers, brothers from another mother,” said Ross, who finished 8-of-13 for 176 yards and two touchdowns through the air. “I’m his number one supporter, he’s my number one supporter. We’re a family.”
Medina cut the Salamanca lead to 30-23 after Ross scored on a four-yard rush, but it was the Ross to Brown connection this time that put the game out of reach, as they linked up on a 49-yard strike with 8:35 to play. Brown, who is also a basketball standout for the Warriors, finished with three receptions for 80 yards and the two scores.
In the first half, Salamanca responded to Medina touchdowns twice to keep things close. A quarterback sneak from Woodworth put the Mustangs on the board with 2:06 left in quarter one, which was swiftly answered by a 61-yard touchdown pass from Ross to Zachary Trietley on the first play of the Warriors’ ensuing drive, giving them a 7-6 lead.
A 13-yard screen pass from Woodworth to Noah Cudzilo gave Medina back the lead just under three minutes into the second, but once again, Salamanca hit back with 2:50 to play before the break, as Isaac’s 11-yard quarterback keeper gave the Warriors the lead back.
Medina advances to the Far West Regionals, where they’ll play the winner of LeRoy-Attica/Alexander at noon on Nov. 18 at Williamsville South.
“This is a milestone, but we dont want to be finished. No one wants us to be finished. [A state title] is the main goal,” Ross said.