Salamanca captains 1973

Salamanca co-captain John Weir stands in the middle of this 1973 file photo. From left, assistant coaches Robert Nugent and George Whitcher, Weir, co-captain Mark Sartori and head coach Joe Sanfilippo pose for the preseason photo.

SALAMANCA — Back when underclassmen typically had to wait their turn, there was no keeping John Weir on the bench.

Weir was a three-year varsity football starter for the Salamanca Warriors football program, from 1971-73. A captain for coach Joe Sanfilippo’s last team at Salamanca and a dominant lineman, Weir was a part of successful teams, winning league championships all three years.

Salamanca went undefeated in 1971, 8-0, then 6-2 in 1972 and 6-1-1 in 1973. The Warriors’ only losses in that span (7-6 to Southwestern and 6-0 to Kane in ‘72, 6-0 to East Aurora in ‘73) were all one-score games.

Following his high school career, Weir played in the first-ever Big 30 All-Star Game in the summer of 1974. He had scholarship offers from Michigan, Northwestern and Penn State.

Weir died last week, on Tuesday, Feb. 16, at age 64. His obituary is included in this week’s Salamanca Press (see page A3).

Salamanca native Brad Weitzel, two years younger than Weir, noted that “whenever we needed crucial yardage in a game we ran behind John Weir.”

Weitzel sent along the following passage from his book on Salamanca football history:

“This guy was always big. The first time I ever come across John was behind Jefferson School at Sabers football practice. I was just beginning my football career and there was this giant out on the field. It was John Weir as a 10 year old. He had to go over 200 pounds then. He was not allowed to play in a game because he was well over the weight limit but it did not stop him from killing the rest of us little kids who had to practice with him. He was the dreaded giant during those years.

That poor kid never got to play in a game until he was a freshman because of the weight restrictions. He missed six years of playing in games and with his size and ability that probably hurt his chances for being a major college recruit. Don’t get me wrong, he was a heck of a football player, but I often wonder what he would have been if he did not miss six years and could have played more than the four years that he got to play in high school.

John was one of the better linemen to put on a Salamanca uniform. He started three years and ended up being selected to the All-State squad and having his number 34 retired.

His senior year he played in a lot of pain because he hurt his knee in the pre-season. Most kids would not have played through the pain he had to endure that entire season. It just showed he had the whole package, size, ability, and toughness.

John had tremendous feet for a big kid. Most of the bigger kids have poor feet but John spent every winter wrestling. That sport is great for improving your feet and balance.

The thing I will not forget about John was how he treated me. He was a stud football player that was two years ahead of me but he always gave me a lot of respect. Not once did he give me a hard time. He was a great team leader for a great program.”