Last December it was party time in Williamsburg as Blacksburg and Salem both won state championships at the College of William & Mary. The Bruins opened the state finals doubleheader with a win over Staunton River in the Group 3A championship, then Salem defeated Dinwiddie to win the state Group 4A title.
In the meantime, Blacksburg High School has moved from the Group 3A ranks to Group 4A. If both are playing in the finals this December they’ll be playing each other, and that adds fuel to what was already a highly anticipated game in Blacksburg this Friday.
Blacksburg is off to a 3-1 start. The Bruins beat Giles, Amherst and Richlands and lost to Lord Botetourt, a team they knocked out of the Group 3A playoffs last season. Salem beat Blacksburg last year, 57-21.
“They’re an exceptionally talented team,” said Salem coach Stephen Magenbauer. “They have a bunch of good high school football players. It will be a good test for us.”
Salem is also 3-1, with the only loss coming to Dinwiddie. Last Friday the Spartans traveled to Northside to play the host Vikings and came out with a 27-0 shutout win in a game filled with penalties. Salem had two long touchdowns called back by flags and both teams became frustrated with a plethora of linen on the gridiron.
“It was hard to get a rhythm,” said Magenbauer. “We’re still trying to play clean football. We’re still working toward that. We let some opportunities slip away.”
Salem led just 7-0 at the half. The Vikings received the opening kickoff and Salem forced a punt, and on the Spartans’ second play from scrimmage Jack Gladden found Avery Close alone over the middle. Close was hit on the five, but dragged a defender into the end zone for the first score of the game.
That would be all the scoring in the first half. Salem drove to the one but fumbled the ball away, had a pass intercepted in the red zone and had a long pass in the end zone batted down on the last play of the half.
The Spartans appeared to score in the third quarter when Luke Owen intercepted a ball at the goal line and returned it 99 yards for a an apparent touchdown. However, an illegal block was called on the return and that negated the score. The Spartans managed to punch it in anyway as Owen made a nice run that put the ball inside the five and Tae Hale bulled over for a score with 2:50 left in the third quarter.
Salem had another touchdown called back in the third quarter when De’Angelo Ramsey broke free for a long run, but it was also negated by a penalty. The Spartans finally got another one to count when Gladden hit Owen in the flat and Luke walked in for a score with 7:01 remaining. Ramsey got his touchdown on a 58 yard run with just over five minutes remaining to put some icing on the cake.
De’Angelo finished with 133 yards rushing on 11 carries but could have had 200 if not for several penalties. Owen had 76 yards on 10 carries and Hale had 13 yards rushing.
Gladden was 11 for 16 passing for 152 yards. Nick Wade led the receivers with four catches for 50 yards, Viante Tucker, Joseph Quinn and Owen had two catches each and Close, Austin Kirtner and James Newby had one catch apiece.
On defense, Owen had four tackles and two interceptions. Nathan Delby had nine tackles, Quinn had six and Tucker, Kirtner, Isaiah Persinger, Bobby Pinello and Close all had five. Da’Jon Cardwell had a sack and Van Richardson had three tackles for losses.
It was the second shutout of the season for the Spartans, as they kept Franklin County off the board in week two. The jayvees also beat Northside, 34-14, and the junior varsity will host Blacksburg at Salem Stadium tonight.
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