By Sam Wilson
The Franklinville/Ellicottville football program didn’t have to look far for an experienced candidate to fill its coaching vacancy.
Nor should the Titans have to look far to fill out their coaching staff. F/E happened to have a long-tenured former varsity coach with recent experience on staff when Chad Bartoszek chose to step down and accept a job at nearby Salamanca, his hometown, and coach the Warriors. In his place on the Titans’ sideline in 2019 will be a former Salamanca coach, Jason Marsh, who assisted F/E the last two seasons.
Marsh hopes to keep as much continuity as possible after watching F/E’s rise since the schools’ football merger in 2014.
“We just keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Marsh said of how to continue the Titans’ success. “Obviously what the Titans have done in the past worked pretty well. We’re just going to continue functioning in the manner that we’ve been functioning.”
Marsh said he expects Chris Mendell, Mark Blecha, Scott Palmatier, Reed Mitrowski and Harley Butler to return to the team’s coaching staff.
“I believe the rest of the coaching staff will remain the same,” he said. “Obviously we’ll be minus Chad, and I believe we’ll be looking to add one other guy. But the rest of the coaching staff will be the same.”
Over nine seasons at Salamanca, Marsh’s Warriors teams went 40-39 from 2005-11 and 2013-14. But Marsh clearly didn’t feel he was done with coaching after the end of his tenure there.
“It’s a great opportunity for me,” he said of coaching F/E. “I love the game of football. I always have. The game has given so much to me and this is just my way of being able to give back to the game and hopefully provide the same type of experiences for the kids that I always had. It teaches a lot of valuable lessons. I just really love that about the game and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to hopefully provide that type of opportunity to the players up at Franklinville/Ellicottville.”
Marsh, who works for the Salamanca City Central School District as a physical therapist, also coached varsity baseball as an assistant this year. In his nearly five years since last serving as a varsity football coach, Marsh said he learned different ways of setting up a coaching staff by working with the Titans.
“I really liked the way the staff worked up at Franklinville/Ellicottville,” he said. “I think I really learned just different ways. The way we operated was different than the way I’d done things in the past at Salamanca. I really learned a lot from that and it’s something I’d definitely look to carry forward into the future. We have a great coaching staff up there and they get along really well. I’m just looking forward to working with those guys and hopefully they’ll see it the same way. Hopefully, things will work out for us. I’m pretty excited about the opportunity.”
One issue Marsh doesn’t anticipate becoming a problem is F/E’s partnership between neighboring, rivaling school districts.
“I really think it’s a unique situation,” he said, “where you take two schools that are rivals in almost every other sport and then you’re going to merge them together to play as teammates in another sport. It’s definitely a unique situation. It’s something that we’re going to always strive to work on our cohesiveness. But I honestly, in season, have never seen an issue between the players from each school. I think that these kids do a great job of playing together as one.”
F/E expects to return nine of the 11 starters on both offense and defense.
“So we’ve got a lot of experience,” Marsh said. “I still think depth is always an issue, but we have a lot of experience coming back. Hopefully, we can take that experience and hit the ground running.
“The biggest thing is just getting in the weight room this summer, getting the kids ready, physically ready for the season. That’s going to be our main thing, just making sure the kids are physically ready when they enter camp and two-a-days in August.”