Salem, Appomattox claim state football gold

Lord Botetourt, Galax settle for state silver

ROANOKE, Va. – Our 1st and 10 area squads claimed a pair of state football titles and a pair of runner-up finishes in the 2021 spring football season.

In VHSL Class 4 action, Salem traveled to Lake Taylor to meet an ole foe from title tilts gone by. The Spartans trailed 12-7 before rallying for a convincing 28-20 win over the Titans, giving coach Don Holter his first state title, and the Salem football program its 10th overall.

“These kids work hard, love one another, they love the game and there’s no quit, no flinch in them and when it’s time to get after it they focus, have great discipline and execute their game plan in all 3 phases and they do it with great passion and physicality, " Coach Holter explained.

Salem finished 10-0 in the abbreviated spring season. The Spartans and Lake Taylor played a pair of classic finals in the 2014 and 2015. The Spartans lost the 2014 contest only to turn the tables in 2015 in double OT.

Lord Botetourt reached its third Class 3 state title tilt in six years, but the Cavaliers would lose their second straight final game, falling to Lafayette 27-13. The undefeated Cavaliers led 13-10 in the third quarter before Lafayette rallied for the win.

" I hope that after two years of this that they’ll actually be motivated to actually get it. Just have to hope that they can all step up, take the chance and be our leaders,” Cavaliers offensive lineman Troy Everett said.

“Coach (Jamie) Harless built this program from nothing and dealt with too much stuff and for him to be coaching us how he does is unbelievable and he deserves everything,” Cavaliers tight end and linebacker Zach Horton says.

Lord Botetourt finishes the spring season 9-1.

In Class 2 State action, Appomattox was trying for an amazing 5th state title in six seasons, including 4 in a row. But they have made this year’s state run without head coach Doug Smith on the sidelines. The longtime Raiders coach has been battling cancer, while trying to remain connected with his program, coaches and athletes. The Raiders would play a shootout with Stuarts Draft before prevailing 48-41. The Raiders led 21-16 at the half and 41-23 in the third but had to fight off a tough Cougars squad for the win.

“Teenagers some of the kids they’re gonna get their head down and they make a mistake and somebody says something about it they got to just take a deep breath step back come back and fix their mistakes and know that if they’re living to fight another play we got a chance,” interim head coach Stephen Castello said.

“Every week is a championship. Every week is a championship -- we prepare like every week is a championship. We know that every team that we play they’re going to give it their all against us, they want to beat us. So you got to prepare for a battle every game,” junior quarterback Tre Lawing says.

In Class 1, Galax ran into a team making an historic run in the VHSL in Riverheads. The Gladiators had won four straight titles coming into another battle with the Maroon Tide. Galax defeated Riverheads for the 2015 title, but not this year. Riverheads remains supreme with a 65-29 domination, and a 5th straight state crown.

“The kids fought well and they did some things they hadn’t seen and hats off to coach Casto and that program. They do a great job and they came out, had a good game plan against us and did a good job. Our kids fought and I told them this game does not define them, does not define this team, program or community. Our kids came out and fought and that’s all you can ask for,” Galax head coach Shane Allen said.

This is Galax’s second consecutive runner-up bid. The 5th straight title for Riverheads is a VHSL record.

About the Authors:

John serves as the Sports Director at WSLS 10. From Virginia Tech, to NASCAR and everything in between, WSLS 10 Sports covers the names making big plays in the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB.

Eric is no stranger to the Roanoke Valley. He is a Roanoke native and proud graduate of William Fleming High School.