SALAMANCA - Not many are able to say - actually, not many are lucky enough to say - that they have the job of their dreams.
Paul Furlong can.
Furlong, who coached the Allegany-Limestone football team during the 2008 and 2009 seasons (he went 9-8 overall), was recently named the head coach for the Salamanca Warriors, his hometown squad.
"It really is a dream," he said. "The more I look at it and the more I think about it now, the more special it is."
Special indeed, especially when one considers that, given the season the Warriors had enjoyed just the year before, it didn't look like the job would be opening up anytime soon.
Led by Jason Marsh, who took over at Salamanca in 2005, the Warriors had one of their best seasons in recent memory, along the way snapping Southwestern's then 42-game regular season winning streak and posting a 6-0 Class C South record before having their season derailed in the Class C quarterfinals due to injury (they lost their starting quarterback, Tanner John, and running back, Cameron Caputi).
Despite that success, however, Marsh decided that he wanted to spend more time with his son, who is himself playing football at Salamanca.
So he called Furlong, a Salamanca native and one of his assistant coaches during the 2009 Don Raabe Big Charities Classic.
"He just wants to be around his son more, and I think he knew that he wouldn't be able to do that if he was coaching," Furlong said of his predecessor. "So he called me in mid-April and asked if I would be interested in the head coaching job. I said I definitely was, and he told me that if I went after it he would step aside."
Given his history with the team, Furlong and the Warriors seem a perfect fit.
Furlong is a 1988 graduate of Salamanca High, and during his time there stood out on the football field.
A running back, Furlong was named to the Post-Journal Football All-Star team in 1987 after rushing for 1,046 yards, scoring 164 points (he had 16 touchdowns) and being named both a Division 6 All-Star and the Division 6 Offensive Player of the Year.
At one point, Furlong held the all-time Salamanca records for carries, rushing yards and points in a career while also being tied atop the list in both touchdowns and interceptions.
During his career, Furlong got his first idea of what makes a good coach while playing for the most successful coach in Salamanca history, George Whitcher, who went 167-59-5 from 1974-98.
It isn't just Furlong himself, however, whose past is inextricably linked with Warriors football.
"My family has long been involved with Salamanca football," he explained. "My great uncle played with the team in the 1940s, my father played in the 1950s, my brother played in the late 1970s and then I played in the late 1980s."
Following his playing days Furlong was an assistant coach under Whitcher from 1995-96 before moving on to help with Ellicottville and finally Allegany-Limestone.
"I've been coaching on and off for the past 10 years," he said.
Now, though, he's looking to make his dream job as permanent as possible. And what better way to do that than to lead Salamanca to a dream season?