It took a day or so to figure it out, but Salem will play Charlottesville High when the Class 4A, Region D playoffs begin Friday night.
The Spartans will host the Black Knights at Salem Stadium at 7 pm. Salem comes in at 8-2 as the third seed and Charlottesville is sixth seeded at 7-3.
At one point Sunday afternoon the Salem coaches thought they were playing William Byrd. The VHSL released the playoff pairings and had Charlottesville fifth and Byrd sixth, and the Spartan coaches were already preparing for the Terriers. However, they switched gears by the evening when it was determined Byrd, who was dead even with Charlottesville in the point system, won the tie-breaker for the fifth seed.
“The brackets came out on the website at 11 o’clock Sunday morning and had us playing Byrd,” said Salem coach Stephen Magenbauer. “We had thought all along we would be playing Charlottesville until then. We started preparing for Byrd, and then we found out we would be playing Charlottesville after all.”
The Spartans last played Charlottesville in the opening round of the 2014 playoffs and beat the Knights at Salem Stadium, 52-13. Magenbauer cautions not to read too much into that, as these are two entirely different teams that will play this Friday.
“They have a good offense,” said Magenbauer. “They run the option with a double wing like Georgia Tech. They can put up some points.”
Charlottesville’s losses have come to E.C. Glass, Albemarle and Louisa County. Louisa, who is 10-0, scored 62 points against the Knights. The loss to Albemarle was 32-29 and Glass beat Charlottesville in the season opener in August, 21-20.
Blacksburg, at 9-1, is the top seed in Region D and the Bruins will host eighth seeded Jefferson Forest this week. Second seeded GW-Danville will host seventh seeded Amherst and Byrd, finally deemed the fifth seed, will be at fourth seeded E.C. Glass.
Glass lost to Amherst last week to allow the Spartans to jump to third, coupled with Salem’s 43-20 win at Pulaski County. That also kept the Cougars out of the playoffs, as Pulaski finished in ninth place in the region with only the top eight advancing.
The Cougars knew what was at stake when they hosted Salem last Friday, and they came to play. An 81 yard touchdown run by Jaceri Eaves gave the home crowd some hope as Pulaski took an early 7-0 lead. However, Salem came right back with a 28 yard TD pass from Jack Gladden to Viante Tucker to tie the game by the end of the first quarter.
Salem led 22-13 at the half thanks to a 15 yard TD run by De’Angelo Ramsey and a “pick six” by Nathan Delby, who jumped the route on a square out and took the interception untouched for 30 yards.
The Spartans dominated the second half as Ramsey scored two more touchdowns and Gladden hit Sam Sumpter with a 10 yard TD pass. The Cougars tacked on a late, meaningless score to account for the final.
“We had a good second half,” said Magenbauer. “Pulaski came out fired up, but once we settled in we played well. That long run came on a blown assignment, and after that they rushed for something like 34 yards on 33 carries.”
Ramsey rushed 21 times for 189 yards and three TDs. Tucker had four carries for 71 yards and Van Richardson had five attempts for 15 yards.
Gladden completed four of eight passes for 65 yards and two TDs. Tucker had two receptions for 40 yards and Sumpter and Joseph Quinn had one catch each.
On defense, Chandler Sutphin led Salem with 11 tackles, followed by Nick Anthony, Da’Jon Cardwell and Richardson with five each. Salem had seven tackles for losses and four sacks.
“Our defense is playing well,” said Magenbauer. “They’re getting more experience each week and the kids are confident.”
Salem’s jayvees also had a big game with Pulaski last week, and the Spartans won 27-20 at Salem Stadium to finish the season at 9-1. Pulaski had lost just once prior to that game.
The jayvees are now finished. If the varsity wins Friday, they’ll play the winner of the GW-Danville against Amherst game next week. If GW wins that would be in Danville, but if Salem and Amherst both win that would game would be played at Salem Stadium.