By Brian Hoffman
The Salem and Glenvar High football teams both have their work cut out for them as they open the regular season Friday night with road games. Salem will play at Martinsburg, West Virginia while Glenvar will open at Galax.
This will be the third meeting between Salem and Martinsburg in the past four seasons and the Bulldogs have won the first two. Salem was scheduled to play Martinsburg in 2020 but when that season was postponed by the coronavirus pandemic that game was cancelled. The Bulldogs were able to play a six game schedule in the fall of 2020 but the VHSL postponed the Virginia football season until the spring.
The first meeting between the state powers of bordering states came on October 19 of 2019 when Martinsburg took a 49-14 win in Salem Stadium. Last year the Bulldogs came to Salem again for the season opener and this one closer, but Martinsburg prevailed again, 35-21.
The Martinsburg program is a storied one, as the Bulldogs have won five straight full season championships, not counting the 2020 season where a state champion was not crowned. Since 2010 Martinsburg has won nine state titles and has an overall record of 147 wins and just nine losses. They’ve only lost twice since 2016.
At Salem, Don Holter has a 33-4 record in his three years as Spartan head coach and the only two regular season losses have been to Martinsburg. They’ll be a challenge again, but the Spartans aren’t backing down.
“Sure they’re good, but we’re good, too,” said Holter. “We’re excited to play them.”
Like Martinsburg, Salem is a team that has great community support.
“The support of our community is tremendous,” said Holter. “We feel united as one and the community has high expectations, as do we. The kids understand that and it’s pretty cool when they go to the grocery store and people know who they are. They can feel that.”
Salem hosted Magna Vista in a Benefit Game at Salem Stadium last Friday and the Spartans dominated. Salem beat the Warriors 35-0 in the first half when the starters were on the field.
This will be the 11th time in the past 10 years Glenvar has opened the season with Galax, and the only time they did not was, again, in the COVID year. The Highlanders have a 6-4 edge in that rivalry, including a 28-14 win at Highlander Stadium last fall.
The Maroon Tide has been to the Class 1 state championship game in each of the last three seasons but hasn’t been able to finish the job, losing to Riverheads all three times. The Tide has a 32-6 record over that span and a 32-3 mark against teams not named Riverheads.
“They’re very physical and they like to run the ball,” said Glenvar coach Kevin Clifford. “That’s been their M.O. for the last 11 years, and they play solid defense.”
Glenvar finished up the preseason with a jamboree at Blacksburg last Friday. The Highlanders beat Blacksburg, 21-0, and Abingdon, 28-7, when the first teams were on the field.
Don’t miss the special section, TOUCHDOWN XLVI, previewing the Salem and Glenvar High football teams in this week’s Salem Times-Register.