They say, “to the victor goes the spoils,” and there were spoils to be had for the 2016 Group 4A state champion Salem High football team. The all-state team was recently announced and the Spartans were well-represented.
Salem has seven all-state players on the VHSL All-Group 4A team, including six on the first team. Spartans were named to all three of the most prestigious honors, as seniors Noah Beckley and Riley Fox were named state Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year and Salem coach Stephen Magenbauer was honored as the Group 4A Coach of the Year.
Beckley had a great year at quarterback in earning the Offensive Player of the Year. He completed 131 of 193 passes for a completion percentage of 67.9 percent. Noah had 28 touchdown passes and just four interceptions. He threw for 2,056 yards and ran for 549 more, which was third on the team.
“When you look at running and throwing combined, he’s as good as any we’ve had,” said Magenbauer. “He’s so confident, and he played his best when it really mattered.”
Fox led the team with 63 solo tackles and 100 overall tackles, including five sacks and 13 behind the line. The University of Richmond signee also played offense and rarely came off the field. Like Beckley, he played his best when it counted.
Magenbauer led the Spartans to a 14-1 record, their fourth state championship and fifth state appearance in just 13 years as head coach at SHS. His record at Salem is 149-21 over 170 games, including 40 playoff games in 13 years.
Also named to the first team all-state offense were senior Josie Staples on the offensive line, junior Viante Tucker at wide receiver and junior Nate Craft at placekicker. Senior Kionte Burnette made the first team defense at defensive back and junior Luke Owen was a second team selection as a kick returner.
The All-Region and All-Conference teams were previously announced and, as expected, Salem names were plentiful. First team All-Region 4A West on offense were Beckley, Staples, Tucker, Craft and Owen and Beckley was the Offensive Player of the Year. On defense first teamers were Fox and Burnette and Riley was the Defensive Player of the Year in the region.
Vincent Pinello was second team All-Region at defensive end while Joe Quinn was a second team defensive back. Honorable mention went to Grey Wolfe at center and two defensive players, Christian Haley on the defensive line and Owen as a punt returner.
In Conference 24 first team honors on offense went to Beckley, Tucker, Staples, Wolfe and Craft, and first team defenders were Fox, Burnette, Quinn, Haley and Pinello. Owen was first team as both a kick and punt returner.
Second team All-Conference went to Fox, Pinello and offensive lineman Dajon Cardwell on offense. Magenbauer shared Coach of the Year with William Byrd’s Jeff Highfill and Fox shared Defensive Player of the Year with Byrd’s Devon Kasey. Byrd’s Larry Basham was the Offensive Player of the Year.