By Brian Hoffman
Above left, Walter Moyer of the Salem 8U team puts a hit on a Franklin County runner at the goal line. Above right, the 8U line is ready to fire off the ball. Below left, Cam Scharnus(#3) has Alijah Robinson by the jersey in the 10U championship game and, below right, Maclin Hale picks up some yards for the Maroon team despite the best effort of a White defender.
The City of Salem won two of three Sandlot Super Bowl championships last Saturday at Salem Stadium. Salem teams won U-8 and U-10 titles on a misty Salem day.
The U-8 Spartans, coached by Bobby Johnson, opened the three-game day of Super Bowl action with a game against Franklin County. Seedings didn’t mean a lot in the eight year old division as scores are not kept during the season and seedings are drawn from a hat for the tournament. Salem drew number four and the Spartans defeated the other Salem U-8 team, coached by Neil Conner, in the opener, then defeated Vinton in the semifinals. Franklin County beat Cave Spring and Hunter DeHart’s Glenvar team.
The championship game in the U-8 Division was a good one, with Salem winning 24-19. Jace Johnson scored two TDs for Salem while Kordae Waller and Walter Moyer had one each. Luke Biggar had four sacks and two fumble recoveries.
“Great offense and defense for the entire team, we could not have done this without each player,” said coach Johnson. “We are so proud of these boys, the ‘little team that could’.”
This was Johnson’s first year coaching football in the recreation program.
“I thought I knew the expectations, but I was wrong,” he said. “Salem takes pride in their football teams. All of them, including the 8U boys. They responded and went far beyond my wildest expectations. What we achieved this season was amazing. Saturday was the culmination of a season of practice, bruises and tears. Our fellas went out there and decided not to lose. I give all the thanks to God, great parents and coaches, and most of all, this small team of young men.”
The second game, in the U-10 division, matched the two Salem teams for the championship. The Maroon team, coached by Bubba Sowers, had won convincingly over the White, coached by Gary Abbott, during the regular season but on Saturday the White team gave them all they could handle.
Aaron Brower scored early in the game and Maclin Hale kicked the two point extra, and that’s how it stood at the half. Hale scored on a 42 yard quarterback run in the second half to make it 16-0 and that’s how the game ended.
“CJ Goens played great on defense,” said Sowers. “Our blitzing safety Nathan Denton tried to play some but couldn’t due to the flu and Alden Sowers had to step in. He hadn’t played much on defense all year but did well rushing up the middle , causing the Salem white team to go off sides. Offensively it was not our best game but defensively they couldn’t move the ball on us.”
Coach Sowers was pleased to have his team on the victory stand after a frustrating season in 2021.
“This group of kids is an outstanding group to coach and very selfless,” he said. “They deserved to win the Super Bowl last year but due to COVID protocols we weren’t able to play all of our players. This is a year overdue, primarily a roster of fourth graders, and I can’t think of a more deserving group to win this year’s Super Bowl.”
In the final game of the day, for U-12 players, Vinton finished the season undefeated with an 8-0 win over Cave Spring.