by Brian Hoffman
The Salem Spartans are hoping to do their part this Friday night and hoping to get a little help on the last weekend of the high school regular season. With one game to go the Spartans are ranked third in Region 4D in the Virginia High School League ratings but hoping to move up one, and maybe two spots as they prepare for a game at Patrick Henry Friday night.
There’s no doubt it’s crowded at the top. E.C. Glass leads Region 4D with a rating of 29.22 followed by Louisa County at 28.66 and Salem at 28.11. The Spartans have an excellent opportunity to improve their lot as they play PH, a Class 5 team with seven wins. Teams get extra points to “play up” and rider points for each win that team has.
E.C. Glass, who is 8-1 like Salem, will have their work cut out for them as they host Lynchburg rival Liberty Christian Academy. LCA is undefeated and the top-ranked team in Region 3C, so that’s all but a toss-up game with Spartan fans rooting for the Bulldogs.
Louisa will host Goochland in their final regular season game. Goochland is a Class 3 school with a 3-6 record so even if Louisa wins the Spartans could leapfrog the Lions with a win over Patrick Henry. The ideal scenario for Salem is an LCA win over Glass and a Salem win at PH, and then even if Louisa wins the Spartans could finish the regular season atop the ratings. That’s important, as that assures Salem home games instead of trips to Lynchburg or Mineral, VA, which is east of Richmond.
What’s hurt the Spartans is their schedule. Salem has wins over two winless teams, Northside and Blacksburg, meaning no rider points from either. These are two once-mighty programs who have fallen on hard times, and Salem has little to gain with lopsided wins over these long-time rivals.
“If they had both won just four games we’d be in first place in the region,” said Salem coach Don Holter.
Last Thursday the Spartans played Hidden Valley at Bogle Field in Roanoke County, and that didn’t do a lot for their point rating either as Salem dropped behind Louisa despite a 61-3 win over the 3-7 Titans.
This one got late early. Salem led 7-0 a minute and 15 seconds into the game and they didn’t even get the ball first, as an interception was followed by a TD run by Jayveon Jones. It was 21-0 by the end of the quarter as Jones scored two more times on runs of 15 and 28 yards.
Salem made it 28-0 less than two minutes into the second period on a one yard run by Peyton Lewis, and his 35 yard run made it 35-0 with 7:10 to go until halftime. After two scores were wiped out by Salem penalties late in the half Jones ran another one in for a 42-0 lead at intermission, then Lewis ran the second half kickoff back 92 yards to make it 49-0 and fans on both sides started filing for the exits. Hidden Valley was able to kick a field goal to avoid a shutout but it was almost comical by that point.
Final tallies had Lewis with 168 rushing yards and two TDs, along with the return for a score. Jones had 80 yards on eight carries, four of which went for touchdowns, while Josiah Boardley had 57 yards on 10 carries and Dontay Davis had 37 on just two runs, and both had touchdowns. If you don’t recognize those names Holter brought a few boys up from the jayvee team and the Titans had no more success stopping them.
“We brought some freshmen up,” he said. “We normally don’t do that until the playoffs but they earned it. It will help them grown.”
Wilson passed just five times, completing five for 37 yards. He had a nice TD pass to Vernon wiped out by a penalty but, on the most part, there was no need to pass.
On defense Jaelyn Allen led with a dozen tackles and Isaiah Barlow had seven. Vernon and Josiah Persinger both had interceptions.
“The kids did exactly what they’re supposed to do,” said Holter. “We had a great mindset and good focus.”
This week’s game will be much tougher. Patrick Henry has won seven of their last eight games and put up 56 against Pulaski County in Dublin last week. This should be an exciting game.
“They run power, they’re big up front and they’re extremely athletic,” said Holter. “They like to stretch you and take vertical shots. They do a lot of things that will challenge you.”
The jayvees will end their season at home tonight against the Patriots. Last week Salem hosted Hidden Valley at Salem Stadium and if you think brighter days are ahead for the Titans consider that Salem won that game, 66-0.