Galax earns win over Essex, takes home Class 1 state championship

Freshman kicker hits game winner for 7-6 victory

SALEM, Va. – The Galax Maroon Tide took on the Essex Trojans in the Class 1 state championship game in Salem.

Galax is no stranger to the VHSL Class 1 title, and this year is no exception. The Maroon Tide battled it out for the win, 7-6.

Essex scored the only touchdown of the game on their opening drive, with Zay Bundy cashing it in on the QB keeper. They would miss the two point conversion, which would loom large.

Galax managed to get a safety when Essex was pinned deep, and fumbled the ball in their own endzone. Although they recovered it, the score was 6-2.

The Maroon Tide defense continued to frustrate the Trojans, with Tehdrun Tucker recording another safety, to move the score to 6-4.

Tucker was crucial in the final drive for Galax, getting a big run to put the Maroon Tide in field goal position.

That set the stage for freshman kicker Yandel Vera, from 42 yards out. Vera’s kick HIT THE CROSSBAR but had enough on it to tumble over.

Galax wins 7-6.

”I mean that’s only a third field goal attempt all year so we didn’t tempt any field goals until the region championship. He’s won two games for us this year in the playoffs. He won the region championship with a field goal. He won the state championship with a field goal so you know he’s earned it. He’s gotten better every week just like the rest of our kids have and I can’t say enough about our defense and Yandel and special teams and defense settling down and making plays,” head Galax coach Shane Allen says.

“I just felt great -- you know we won state, I never thought I would do it, I never thought it would come down to me, so I just feel good. Feels really good,” Galax kicker Yandel Vera says.

Ironically, it’s the same score as their last state title win, 7-6 over Riverheads back in 2015.

About the Author:

Lauren Helkowski joined WSLS 10’s digital team in August 2022, but has held a passion for storytelling long before.