The Spartans didn’t see it coming last Friday night, as the Blacksburg football team shocked the valley with a 49-12 win over Salem. It wasn’t that people didn’t know Blacksburg was good, but that was quite a turnaround from last year’s 57-21 Salem win.
“We’re not the same team as last year,” said Salem coach Stephen Magenbauer. “We just flat out got beat. There were a number of events that could have changed the momentum of that game, but we didn’t take advantage of them.”
After Salem drilled Blacksburg last year the Bruins turned things around and ended up winning the state 3A championship. This year the Bruins have moved up to Group 4A and could easily be matched up with Salem again in the Region 4D playoffs.
The first rankings of the season came out this week and Salem is seventh among 12 teams in the region. The top eight make the playoffs, and if the post-season started today Salem would be back in Blacksburg to meet the second seeded Bruins in round one.
Of course, there’s a long way to go until then. In fact, last Friday marked the halfway point of the season for most teams, and Salem is now 3-2.
While it’s still early, it’s interesting to see how things stack up at this point. From one to eight, the Region 4D teams are E.C. Glass, Blacksburg, Charlottesville, William Byrd, Pulaski County, GW-Danville, Salem and Amherst County. Jefferson Forest and Liberty Christian are nine and 10 and weak sisters Carroll County and Bassett round things out.
Salem isn’t used to being seventh in any kind of football rating. However, Magenbauer has been around long enough that nothing surprises him.
“Nothing surprises me in high school football,” he said after Friday’s loss. “Now it’s time for us to get back to work. We need to focus on what we have to do to get better.”
Salem trailed 28-12 at the half Friday and didn’t score after intermission. It was just 21-12 when Blacksburg scored on a 42 yard screen pass on the final play of the half, and that was a killer.
The Bruins rolled up 355 yards rushing against Salem, topped by Cole Beck’s 305 yards on 27 carries. That might be a personal record for a Salem opponent.
The Spartans had 196 yards rushing and 137 passing. Luke Owen had 100 yards rushing on 16 carries and Salem’s only touchdown. De’Angelo Ramsey had 73 yards on 13 carries and Tae Hale had 26 on five attempts.
Jack Gladden was nine for 21 passing with two interceptions. Viante Tucker had four catches for 45 yards and Joseph Quinn had three for 59.
Nate Craft had field goals of 33 and 34 yards but the Spartans missed another extra point attempt. It was the third miss in 15 attempts and a couple other times holder Quinn has been forced to scramble after a bad snap.
This week, Salem figures to get better with a home game against Christiansburg. The Blue Demons are 0-4 under first year coach Alex Wilkins, a former Glenvar assistant.
“They haven’t won a game yet, but they do some things well and they’re getting better,” said Magenbauer. “They’ve had two weeks to prepare.”
Christiansburg was off last week. Despite that, it might be a bad time to catch the Spartans.
“I’m anxious to see how we respond,” said Magenbauer. “This is a big point in our season.”
The Salem jayvees beat the Bruins, 14-12. The jayvees are at Christiansburg tonight.
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