Cicero- It wasn’t the outcome the Salamanca had hoped for when they took the field Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse High School for the Class C Western Semi final. Their opponent, the Waverly Wolverines were unstoppable, and proved that in their 42-0 win over the Warriors.
Joey Tomasso, the Wolverines their senior quarterback was 16-of-20 passing for 289 yards and a couple of touchdown passes. Tomasso also ran for a score. Kolsen Keathley, a junior, had four catches, including a 92-yard touchdown grab in the 3rd quarter that seemingly put this game out of reach.
Head Coach Chad Bartoszek spoke with reporters after the loss, “I try to stay emotionally consistent, but after a loss it’s tough. A lot of tears shed in that locker room.” Indeed, this team meant a lot to the community, the away side bleachers were packed with family, friends and die-hard Salamanca fans. The Warriors were making their first appearance in the semis since 2001. Bartoszek, himself a former player, was a member of the ’99 team that went all the way to the finals.
“Football wise today we just couldn’t piece it together. We didn’t finish drives. It hurts,” Bartoszek said.
The score wouldn’t indicate it as such but early on, Salamanca was hanging in with Waverly.
The Warriors defense forced the high-powered Waverly offense into a 3 and Out on the game’s opening drive. When Salamanca took over, they actually moved the ball. A good mix of passes and runs enabled them to pick up a couple of first downs. Most importantly, it kept the hot handed Tomasso off the field.
The Salamanca offense ran out of steam at midfield and eventually punted. That’s where Waverly found some of that rhythm that makes their offense so potent. Tomasso went 4-4 passing and picked up a crucial 4th and 1 on a scramble, and the Wolverines were cooking. Salamanca however would stop Waverly inside their own 10 on 4th down.
Moments later, a muffed punt attempt at the goalline led to a Waverly turnover. The Wolverines punched it in moments later, Tomasso with a keeper gave Waverly a 7-0 lead in Quarter 2.
The Salamanca offense put another promising drive together, breaching the red zone for the first time but failed to convert on 4th down. Waverly would go the distance, capping off that drive with a Carter George 4-yard TD run giving the Wolverines a 14-0 lead.
Salamanca, already without versatile starter Arlen Newark who missed the game due to injury, then lost Carmine Hoag who had been a bright spot-on offense early in the game with some nice catches. Hoag needed to be helped off the field and could not return.
Quarterback Maddox Isaac, who had been playing through a number of nagging issues would go in and out for most of the 2nd half and then Jaxson Ross, playing with the heaviest of hearts all season after the passing of his Father, Darren who died of brain cancer just two months earlier, left the game unable to return.
Salamanca did not have enough at the end to stop this Waverly train. It came into the Semi’s with a full head of steam and once they figured things out, they were not going to be denied.
Another special teams miscue by the Warriors resulted in a Tomasso to Kolsen Keathley 10-yard score, making it a 3-score game. The Wolverines took a 21-0 lead into the half.
Waverly scored three more times in the final two quarters, to help them advance to the JMA Wireless Dome in Syracuse next week where they will face Fonda-Fultonville for the NYSPHSAA Class C Championship.
“We will never forget this team, what they did for the community, their parents, our youth. This was a special group. The town really needed it,” Bartoszek said.
Salamanca (10-3) overcame a number of obstacles just to reach this game. They knocked off two previously unbeaten teams (Medina, Le Roy) to reach the Western Semi’s.
It’ll be a long ride home for these Warriors, but the memories they made this season will last far longer. They certainly left a lasting impression on the Salamanca football community, and that’s what high school sports are all about.
Photos by Alek Kolstee/WNYAthletics