FRANKLINVILLE — It became commonplace for the Franklinville/Ellicottville Titans until last season, and now they’re back: playing for a Section 6 championship.
F/E (8-0), the top seed in Section 6 Class D, clinched a return to New Era Field for the sectional title game by running over No. 4 Salamanca on Friday night, 35-0. The Titans led 28-0 at halftime on the way the semifinal victory. Quarterback Logan Frank led the way with two passing touchdowns and a 65-yard rushing score.
F/E, ranked No. 2 in the state in Class D, will play either Randolph or defending state champion Clymer/Sherman/Panama on Saturday, Nov. 9, at noon. Randolph visits CSP in the other semifinal today (1:30 p.m.) in Panama.
This marks the fifth trip to the Buffalo Bills’ stadium in six years for F/E, its first under new head coach Jason Marsh while seeking the team’s first sectional title since 2015.
“It was one of our goals the team set for themselves coming into the season, that they wanted to make sure they got to the stadium game,” said Marsh, who replaced Chad Bartoszek when he left for Salamanca this year. “If you don’t get there, you can’t move on to the state playoffs, so it’s just another goal we’re checking off the list and hopefully we can continue to check goals off.”
F/E outgained Salamanca in total offense, 316-46. Frank ran for 148 yards on 11 attempts and completed four of six passes for 82 yards.
On a cold first night of November, the Titans relied on the running game, but trusted Frank to make a few throws when they were available.
“The plan was take what they give us,” Marsh said. “We felt comfortable doing both: we threw the ball a little bit tonight and ran the ball well. So that was the gameplan and the kids once again went out and executed and it’s now on to the next one.
“Logan, he’s a gamer. He’s going to step up and bring his best when it’s on the line and that’s what he did tonight.”
Clayton Rowland had both a rushing touchdown and a TD catch from Frank, while Nik Logel and Tyler Clear also scored for the Titans. Logel had a team-high 39 receiving yards on two catches and Clear had 45 rushing yards on six carries.
Clear had an interception and a fumble recovery to spark the Titans’ two takeaways from the Warriors. Wyatt Chudy made a team-high six tackles.F/E kicker Bryce Butler, who also plays for the Ellicottville boys soccer team, made all five of his extra points. He attempted a 37-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, and had more than enough distance, but hit off the left upright.
“We thought it might be something that we might need down the road, so we figured, ‘Let’s give it a shot.’” Marsh said. “He’s a good kicker, he’s real accurate with his extra points and hopefully that field goal will go in for us if we need it.”
Trevor Ellis led Salamanca’s defense with eight tackles. Zach Cotter had an interception.
Salamanca (4-5) entered the game shorthanded, with quarterback Lucas McKenna sitting out with an injury and key lineman Kody Shinners suspended due to an ejection last week against C-LV. The Warriors lost McKenna’s older brother, senior wide receiver/cornerback Jarrett, to an injury on a kickoff return in the second quarter.
“Lucas was out with an injury and we had a suspension from last game, some kids that weren’t suited up today,” Bartoszek said, “but nevertheless, the Titans are loaded up and they’re going to make a run here. We faced a great opponent.
“I’m proud of our guys for hanging, playing football, that’s a tough team to match up against and I feel like we played the game. I mean that sincerely. I feel like we hit a little bit more, we were a little bit more physical than we had been in the past, and that shows some passion.”
For Bartoszek, knowing the players who made it to the end still fought hard was an encouraging note to close his first season on.
“We went in at halftime and coaches were talking as we always do and I just overheard in the locker room and they kids were fired up,” he said. “They said, ‘Don’t give up.’ That means a lot. We’re not where we need to be, but man, nights like tonight, at least in terms of how we played and how some of our guys finished will do wonders for the future and that’s all we can ask for. You’re going to get beat and you’re going to run into better teams, but did we play the whole game? Yes.”
After his first season Bartoszek thinks, with confidence, the Warriors can grow into a winner.
“My personal expectations were high, my expectations are always high, like I said in the preseason, I'm always setting the bar high,” he said. “We talk about championship level. When I saw the team and when we started getting into camp, the expectations held pretty firm. We've got a physical bunch of kids. We've got a group that can play the game. Once we figure out how to be confident, how to win, how to get over some of those mental hurdles, we're going to be a tough team to beat.”