By Brian Hoffman
The “Spirit of 76” arrived at Salem Stadium last Friday as the visiting Blacksburg Bruins showed why they begged out of last year’s game with Salem. The Spartans took a 76-0 laugher and the only thing that went wrong for Salem was that the Spartans missed one of 11 extra point kicks.
This was the first meeting between the two since the spring of 2021, when Salem won 50-0 in the COVID rescheduled season that saw the Spartans win the state championship. Last year’s game was postponed due to health concerns at the original date, and despite repeated attempts by the Salem delegation the Bruins couldn’t come up with a time when they were willing to play. So, Blacksburg forfeited last year’s game.
This year there were no excuses so the Bruins, a River Ridge District team, had to play. It got ugly early as Blacksburg lost for the 22nd straight time, counting last year’s forfeit to Salem.
Only so much good can come out of a game like this, but more so for Salem than for the visitors. It was win, after all.
“It was great to be able to get everyone in the game,” said Salem coach Don Holter. “Everyone got to play, and I watched us continue to get better. Our offensive line got after people and our tight ends got better. The defense played faster, that was something we needed to improve.”
Peyton Lewis and Jayveon Jones scored three touchdowns each to lead the Spartans. Jones had three rushing touchdowns and Lewis ran for two scores and returned a punt 57 yards for another. DaRon Wilson, Donte Davis, Wilson Rakes and Ruimel Nugent all had runs for touchdowns. Wilson was seven for nine passing for 89 yards and Jackson Wininger completed one of his first two varsity passes.
This week won’t be as easy as Salem travels to Christiansburg to play a Blue Demons team coached by former Glenvar assistant Alex Wilkins. Now in his sixth year as head coach, Alex was 0-10 his first year, 2017, but built a team that went 10-2 last year and was the top seed in the Region 3D tournament before losing to Lord Botetourt, 28-27, in the regional semifinal.
The Demons opened this season with three wins before losing to Radford last week, 21-20. Salem has won the last 11 meetings in this series but the Blue Demons won three in a row prior to that, from 2009 to 2011. Spartan fans will remember the 2009 season when the Spartans rallied for a 45-43 win during the regular season only to lose to the Demons, 13-0, in the first round of the playoffs at Salem Stadium. The Spartans have won 30 of the 34 meetings dating back to the first time the two met in 1990.
“It will be a physical game,” said Holter. “Christiansburg has great size and they’re well-coached. They have a great environment down there and it should be an outstanding night of football.”
Salem’s jayvee team beat Blacksburg last week, 40-0. When you combine the Salem varsity, jayvee and Andrew Lewis Middle School scores against Blacksburg Salem comes out on top 172-6.
The Spartan jayvees will host Christiansburg tonight at Salem Stadium.