No that’s not Barney Fife talking on the Radio. That’s what longtime High School powerhouse Salem can do this season. The Spartans have the opportunity to win the school’s 10th state championship and 4th in a row. They’ve played in 4 straight State Championship games. Only two schools in Virginia have ever won 4 championships in a row, Hampton and Phoebus. Any discussion of the best team in the Roanoke-Lynchburg area typically begins and ends with Salem, and this year figures to be no different
River Ridge District
Salem Spartans (Class 4; Region 4D)
2017 Record: 13 – 2 overall; 5-1 River Ridge District. Region 4D Champion. Class 4 State Champion
Head Coach: Stephen Magenbauer – 15th season at the school; 19th season overall. Career Record: 179-42-0) (Record at School: 162-23-0)
Points Scored in 2017: 631 (42.0 average per game)
Points Allowed in 2017: 299 (19.9 average per game)
Salem won its 9th State Championship and third in a row last year by winning their final 10 games. A state title appeared unlikely through 5 games when they were just 3-2 after losing to Blacksburg 49-12. Salem was just mediocre through 5 games and appeared disinterested and frankly unable to tackle before fixing their issues and running the table. Salem scored just 139 points in their first 5 games of the season in 2017, and then 492 points in the final 10 games. Spartans scored over 30 points in 10 games, over 40 points in 9 games, over 50 points in 4 games, and scored 70 points one time.
Overview: This is the ultimate plug and play program as they groom players from the youth leagues, through middle school, and then to the varsity. It doesn’t matter who steps in at quarterback, running back or left tackle, Salem is still the best overall program in the Roanoke-Lynchburg area and this year is no different. A 4th consecutive State Title is not a far-fetched idea at all. The schedule remains the same as last year and includes a trip to Dinwiddie, the traditional opener against Amherst County, and traditional closer against Pulaski County.
Fun Fact: Salem last suffered a losing season in 1983 when the Spartans went 4-5-1 in Willis White’s first season. Three straight state titles equals White’s teams winning three in a row from 1998 – 2000. Salem went from 2005 until 2015 without a state championship which is an eternity in Virginia’s Championship City.
August 24 – vs, Amherst County
August 31 – at Franklin County
September 7- at Dinwiddie
September 14- vs. Northside
September 21- vs. Blacksburg
September 28- at Christiansburg
October 5- vs. Patrick Henry
October 12- Open date
October 19- at Cave Spring
October 26 – at Hidden Valley
November 2 – vs. Pulaski County
Blacksburg Bruins (Class 4; Region 4D)
2017 Record: 11 – 2; 6-0 River Ridge District
Head Coach: Eddie Sloss – 1st year at the school; 5th year overall. (Career Record 5-25) Record at School (0-0)
Points Scored in 2017: 548 Points (42.1 average per game)
Points Allowed in 2017: 213 Points (16.4 average per game)
New era begins in Blacksburg as alumnus Eddie Sloss returns to Blacksburg as the Head Coach. Sloss replaces Thad Wells who bolted after 3 years for a job in North Carolina. Sloss resigned as the Head Coach at Carroll County after 2017 after winning just 5 of his 40 games. He didn’t have the talent he’ll have to work with at Blacksburg so clearly the school looked beyond the record. Sloss is a former Blacksburg assistant, and also has assistant coaching stops at Christiansburg, Auburn, and Patrick Henry. Blacksburg had a 10-game winning streak snapped in the Regional Final loss to Salem.
Overview: Quarterback Grant Johnston is back as is Wide Receiver Tyquist Terry, who is a University of Virginia commit. The talent is there to win again, but the problem is going to be that they are in the same Region with Salem. Blacksburg actually won the River Ridge Championship last year with its regular season win over Salem. Once again Blacksburg opens with its traditional game against Giles. Key stretch comes from Weeks 2, 3 and 5 when they are at Lord Botetourt, at Amherst and at Salem.
Fun Fact: Sloss was a Wide Receiver on the 1989 Blacksburg Group AA; Division 4 state championship team. He was catching passes from the coaches’ son Brian Crist, who is now an assistant at Youngstown State. Blacksburg had one coach in 40 years (Dave Crist) and is now on its second in 4 years.
August 24 – vs. Giles
August 31 – at Lord Botetourt
September 7- at Amherst County
September 14- vs, Richlands
September 21- at Salem
September 28- vs. Patrick Henry
October 5- at Cave Spring
October 12- at Pulaski County
October 19 – vs. Hidden Valley
October 26- Open date
November 2 – vs. Christiansburg
Pulaski County Cougars (Class 4; Region 4D)
2017 Record: 6 – 4; 3 -3 River Ridge District (Missed the playoffs)
Head Coach: Stephen James – 4th season at the school; 17th season overall. (Career Record 86 – 49) (Record at School 22 – 10)
2017 Points Scored: 338 (33.8 average per game)
2017 Points Allowed: 263 (26.3 average per game)
A 6-1 start fizzled out quickly as the Cougars lost their last three games to Blacksburg, Patrick Henry and Salem. Defense was the issue in the 3=game losing streak as the Cougars gave up 134 points in those three games, which amounted to 50% of the amount allowed all year.
Overview: This isn’t your father’s Pulaski County football program and certainly isn’t Joel Hicks’ program, but there’s no reason Pulaski County can’t make the playoffs on a consistent basis as Class 4 team. They came close to making it into the post-season for a 7th straight year last year and despite losing three in a row at the end of the season, those losses were all to teams that were better than Pulaski County. The Cougars lost any chance at the post-season by losing to Northside on opening night 38 – 28.
Fun fact: James got his first head coaching job at Marion High School, as the baseball coach. He was also the football team’s defensive coordinator and was coordinating the defense the night Marion lost to Pulaski County in the 2001 Group AA; Division 4 semi-finals, a game that was moved up from Saturday to avoid a conflict with the Virginia Tech season ending game with number 1 ranked Miami in Blacksburg. Pulaski County missed the playoffs last year at 6-4 but made it in 2011 when there were 1-9.
August 24 – at Northside
August 31 – at William Fleming
September 7- vs. Abingdon
September 14- vs. Carroll County
September 21- at Cave Spring
September 28- vs. Hidden Valley
October 5 – at Christiansburg
October 12- vs. Blacksburg
October 19- Open date
October 26 – vs. Patrick Henry
November 2- at Salem
Cave Spring Knights – Class 3; Region 3D
2017 Record – 2 – 9; 1 – 5 River Ridge District
Head Coach: Tim Fulton – 15th season overall; 15th season at Cave Spring. (Career Record 75 – 82) (Record at School 75 – 82)
2017 Points Scored: 193 (17.5 average per game)
2017 Points Allowed: 376 (34.8 average per game)
A season that had such high expectations in the pre-season got off the rails quickly when they lost their best player in pre-season and it never recovered. The only teams the Knights beat were Alleghany which won just 4 games and Christiansburg which went winless.
Overview: The Knights need to reverse a trend this season. They have 4 losing seasons in the last 5 years and their combined record over the last three seasons is 7 – 24. That’s usually enough to get a coach – even in high school – fired, but Fulton has the distinction of leading Cave Spring to its only 10 win season this century, a 10-3 mark in 2009. Fulton who is a math teacher at Cave Spring certainly knows numbers and he has to know his defense must improve. Last year the Knights gave up 62 points to Staunton River, 37 to Class 2 school Glenvar, 49 to Blacksburg, 56 to Salem and 56 again to Staunton River in the playoffs.
Fun fact: As bad as last year was, Cave Spring was just 5 points away from being .500 in the regular season, losing to Pulaski County by just 1 point, Patrick Henry by 3 and Hidden Valley by 1.
August 24- vs. William Byrd
August 31- at Staunton River
September 7- vs. Glenvar
September 14- at Alleghany
September 21- vs. Pulaski County
September 28- Open date
October 5- vs. Blacksburg
October 12- at Patrick Henry
October 19- vs. Salem
October 26- at Christiansburg
November 2- at Hidden Valley
Christiansburg Blue Demons (Class 3; Region 3D)
2017 Record: 0 – 10; 0 – 6 River Ridge District
Head Coach: Alex Wilkens – 2nd year; 2nd year at school. (Career Record: 0 – 10) (Record at School 0 – 10)
2017 Points Scored: 153 (15.3 average per game)
2017 Points Allowed: 407 (40.7 average per game)
Where to begin. Former coach Tim Cromer apparently saw what was coming resigning after the 2016 season with a 98 – 75 record. Cromer’s last two seasons were apparently a sign of things to come as the Blue Demons won just 3 games while losing 17.
Overview: Cromer – now the school’s A.D. – is overseeing an overhaul of the Blue Demons Stadium with new field turf. The Football program is going to need an overhaul to get out of a three- year slump. The Blue Demons closest game was a 14- point loss to Liberty. Wilkens played at Floyd County for Winfred Beale
Fun Fact: From 2009 – 2011, Christiansburg was 34 – 7 with a loss in the Group AA; Division 3 State Championship game to Briar Woods and now Penn State Quarterback Trace McSorley. Since then, the Blue Demons are a woeful 24 – 42.
August 24 – vs. Floyd County
August 31 – at Giles
September 7- vs. Liberty
September 14- at Abingdon
September 28- vs. Salem
October 5 – vs. Pulaski County
October 12- at Hidden Valley
October 19 – at Patrick Henry
October 26- vs. Cave Spring
November 2- at Blacksburg
Hidden Valley Titans (Class 3; Region 3D)
2017 Record: 2 – 8; 2 – 4 River Ridge District
Head Coach: Scott Weaver – 10th Season; 10th Season at School. (Career Record: 45 – 54) (Record at School: 45 – 54)
2017 Points Scored: 218 (21.8 average per game)
2017 Points Allowed: 369 (36.9 average per game)
Started the season 0 -6 before winning 2 of their last 4 games. Only wins were over winless Christiansburg and a final night 23 – 22 win over Cave Spring
Overview: Titans try to end a string of three straight losing seasons. Combined record over the past three seasons is 10 – 22.
Fun Fact: The school starts its 17th season of football. School has an overall record in 16 seasons of 70 – 89 with 9 playoff appearances. Advanced to the State Semi-Finals in 2006 and finished 10 – 3.
August 24 – at Patrick Henry
August 31 – vs. William Byrd
September 7- at Northside
September 14- vs. Franklin County
September 21- at Abingdon
September 28- at Pulaski County
October 5 – Open date
October 12- vs. Christiansburg
October 19- at Blacksburg
October 26- vs. Salem
November 2- vs. Cave Spring
Patrick Henry Patriots (Class 5; Region 5D)
2017 Record: 6-5; 4 -2 River Ridge District
Head Coach: Alan Fiddler – 18th year as a High School Head Coach; 8th year at Patrick Henry (Career Record as a High School Head Coach: 140 – 56). (Record at School: 48 – 28)
2017 Points Scored: 277 (22.7 average per game)
2017 Points Allowed: 380 (34.5 average per game)
One of the toughest jobs in the Roanoke-Lynchburg area isn’t about to get any easier. Patrick Henry simply does not have the athletes to compete with the larger schools in their Region as illustrated by a first round 55-0 loss to Stafford. They are honestly having a tough time competing with the best AA teams in the area. The best thing that could ever happen to PH is to have the enrollment drop to below Class 5 level to Class 4, but that appears unlikely and certainly won’t happen in the next enrollment cycle.
Overview: Patrick Henry has become a consistent playoff team with 6 straight post-season appearances, but they still haven’t won a playoff game since 2000. Under Fiddler, Patrick Henry has only one losing season, 5 – 6 in 2015. Patriots need to improve on Defense, yielding opponents almost 6 Touchdowns per game
Fun Fact: Fidler – a West Virginia native – is a former College Coach at Division II Glenville State where he went 45 – 32 and won a conference championship, but his real success was a West Virginia High School coach. In 10 years at Class A Moorefield in the Eastern Panhandle, he went 92 – 28 with 6 Class A State Championships. In eight years at Patrick Henry, he’s already lost 28 games. Fidler succeeded Brad Bradley as the Patrick Henry Head Coach. Bradley is an alum of Glenville State
August 24 – vs. Hidden Valley
August 31 – vs. Brookville
September 7- vs. William Fleming
September 14- at Albemarle
September 21- Open date
September 28- at Blacksburg
October 5- at Salem
October 12- vs. Cave Spring
October 19- vs. Christiansburg
October 26 – at Pulaski County
November 2- at Staunton River