Salem readies for battle in the trenches in state finals

‘Ultimate goal is to be the best in division four and they’ve set their sights on that.’

SALEM, Va. – The Spartans will enter the match up on a 13-game win streak--fresh off the heels of one of the more dominating performances we’ve seen from Tennessee commit Peyton Lewis. He rushed for 373 yards, 4 touchdowns and also was a big contributor on defense in the state semifinal win against Tuscarora.

Salem’s max effort put them in position to compete for more state gold in 2023 with their toughest challenge of the season lining up across from them--Phoebus.

While Lewis’ efforts alone stood out, it’s Salem’s overall talent level and unselfish style of play that allows anyone to flourish and the team to win. Head coach Don Holter says it starts up front with the offensive and defensive lines, better known as the “mules”.

“Each week is an objective and the ultimate goal is to be the best in division four and they’ve set their sights on that,” Holter said. “Those mules work very hard and take great pride in what they do. When the running backs have a good day, the mules have a good day. They’re selfless, they’re tough.”

“We definitely hold ourselves to high standards and everyday we come to practice, we practice with intent,” said senior lineman Wilson Rakes. “This game is definitely going to be big on the mules so we have to do what we have to do. We have to move.”

The Phoebus Phantoms are in their first year in the Class 4 ranks. They won back-to-back state championships in 2021 and 2022. The Phantoms are undefeated this season and even more impressive, they’ve allowed double digit scoring in just two games all year. When asked what local teams they remind him of, Holter said a combination of “maybe Christiansburg and PH.”

The Class 4 State Championship is slated for an 11:30 a.m. kickoff from Williams Stadium at Liberty University.

About the Author:

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