’86 Spartans will be honored Friday Nite
The 1986 Salem High football team will be honored at Salem Stadium Friday night prior to the Spartans’ game against Franklin County. It will be the home opener for the Salemites.
The ’86 team was the first Salem High team to reach the state finals. The Willis White coached team upset a powerful Pulaski County team in the ninth week of the season, 14-13 in Dublin, and finished 9-1 for the regular season. It was the first time Salem had beaten Pulaski since the first year of Salem High in 1977.
Salem finished the regular season 6-0 in the district and captured the first Roanoke Valley District football championship for the school in White’s fourth season as coach. They were 9-1 overall with the only loss coming against E.C. Glass, but the Spartans avenged that in the first round of the playoffs, winning 7-0 over the Hilltoppers at Lynchburg City Stadium.
Salem won the Northwest Region championship the following week with a 21-7 win over Courtland, followed by a 14-6 win at George Marshall in the state 3A semifinal. At that time there were only three classifications in the VHSL, and Salem was in the largest group.
The ride ended in Hampton, as the Spartans lost the state championship game to a loaded Hampton Crabbers team, 14-0. It was the sixth straight game the Spartans played on the road, beginning with the win at Pulaski, followed by a win at Northside that wrapped up the district and four straight playoff games on enemy turf.
Captains of the ’86 team were Brad Braxton, Johnny Meadows and Larry Wills. Salem mayor Randy Foley was also a member of that team.
Although Salem has won eight state championships since, that ’86 team is right up there with any team Salem High has ever put on the field. It was a great year and many of those players are expected to attend Friday night.
FIVE SPARTANS ON KEYDET ROSTER
Salem’s Austin Coulling will be under center when the VMI football team opens the season Saturday at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. Coulling, who won the job during summer practice, is one of five former Spartans on the VMI roster.
Austin, who quarterbacked the Spartans to the state semifinals in 2013 and a runnerup finish in the state in 2014, figures to see the most time among the five Salemites. He’s a red-shirt sophomore.
Three former Spartans who graduated with Austin are also on the team. Isaiah Parker, who held some Salem receiving records, has been moved to defensive back for the Keydets. He’s now a junior, while Tyler Fedison and Cody Peregoy are both redshirt sophomores for VMI at linebacker.
A fifth Salemite, Alex Ramsey, is a redshirt freshman runningback who figures to see a lot of time. Alex was a senior on Salem’s 2014 state championship team that beat Lake Taylor in overtime.
VMI’s first home game is September 9 against Catawba.
SALEMITES ARE “GAME CHANGERS”
Congratulations to Salem’s Carey Harveycutter and John Shaner, who were recently named “Game Changers” by Connect Sports.
The Salemites were honored at the Connect Sports Travel Show in New Orleans. The show invites individuals to share in a “speed dating” style event, where they have six minutes per conversation to try to sell their product to interested callers. In this case, Harveycutter and Shaner were attempting to bring in events to the Salem Civic Center and other Salem venues. Harveycutter is the Director of Tourism for Salem and Shaner is the Director of Parks and Recreation.
This was the first time the award was given to two people from the same community. There were 16 awards given, 15 to individuals and one to the Salem duo.
Harveycutter and Shaner have been a big part of Salem’s success in bringing sporting events to the city of Salem. Together they have hosted over 85 NCAA Division II and Division III National Championships since 1993 and coordinated more than 70 Virginia High School League State Championship events in football, basketball, wrestling and soccer, and hosted the likes of ASA, USA Softball, USSSA, AAU, ISF, NSA, ACC, Big East, Atlantic 10, ODAC, Mountain East and CIAA.
Harveycutter listed their greatest accomplishment as “convincing the NCAA Division III football committee to return to Salem after the initial three-year contract expired and having the opportunity to host the USA Olympic Softball National Team three times.”
Congratulations, guys, for a truly deserving honor.
HUNT WILL CHEER FOR BULLDOGS
Salem’s Tawni Hunt is a freshman cheerleader for the Gardner-Webb University football team in Boiling Spring, NC. The Bulldogs open Saturday at home at 6 pm against North Carolina A&T