(Editor’s note: The Bruins and the Blue Demons will find out quickly what they might have this spring football season, having to face state-power Salem in their season openers only five days apart next week. Here’s a look at the Spartans and what to expect.)
By Brian Hoffman
It’s a week and a half after the Super Bowl and Monday Night Football is already back. This time, however, it’s the high school kids.
Salem High will open the 2020 football season in 2021 Monday, Feb. 22, with a home game against Blacksburg. Christiansburg will then open its season Friday, Feb. 26, at home against those same Salem High Spartans.
When it comes around, Salem’s offensive line should be pretty good. This year’s “Mules” will feature two of the team’s four captains, senior center Will Clemons and right guard Alex Haley, another returning senior. Cameron Martinsdale, a 265-pound junior, is the likely starter at right tackle, but he was wrestling at Virginia Beach two days before the football season opener after winning the Region 4D mat title at heavyweight.
Senior Brandon Torian is the left guard, and the left tackle spot is a battle between senior Filip DeHaven and 6-3, 250-pound sophomore Andrew Lutes.
These guys will be opening holes for two talented running backs, fullback Cam Leftwich and tailback Zavione Wood. Those two are the other Spartan captains, and they form a formidable duo. Leftwich, a junior, was second on the team last year with 12 touchdowns while rushing for 600 yards on 120 carries. Wood, a senior, carried the ball 65 times for 519 yards and nine touchdowns.
Salem will rotate a variety of wideouts in and out of the lineup with many doubling on the defensive side of the ball. Junior Chauncey “Deuce” Logan, Jr., is the top returnee with 13 receptions while senior Shawn Collins had the most yards, 205, and touchdowns, four, among the returning Spartans. Also seeing time will be Amarri Edwards, Chase Greer, and Virginia Tech-bound twins Jayden and Jordan McDonald.
As of this past week, the quarterback position was still up in the air with junior Logan and sophomore DaRon Wilson battling for the starting position. The two have thrown one varsity pass between them as Logan was one for one for a 50-yard touchdown last year, and Wilson was the quarterback on the jayvee team. During a scrimmage, Logan picked off a Wilson pass while playing defense, then later in the scrimmage he hauled in a perfect Wilson bomb for a touchdown.
On defense, Martindale and 296-pound junior Stacy Williams give Salem excellent size at the nose-guard/tackle positions. Massey and Ky’Juan Waller are slated to be the ends.
Wood is a talented linebacker on the defensive side of the ball. He was second on the team to graduated Bobby Pinello in tackles last season with 73 total, including a team-leading 11 tackles for loss. Waller was third on the team last year with 57 total tackles.
Junior Noah Collins will be the other linebacker, and junior Carson Williams will play the hybrid “robber” position. Williams will switch from last year’s number-4 jersey to the coveted number 3, which tells what the coaches think of him. Who decides who gets to wear 3? “I do,” responded head coach Don Holter.
Greer, Logan, Shawn Collins and the talented McDonald twins will handle the secondary. Jayden
McDonald had four interceptions last year to lead the team and Collins had three.
Three Spartans are battling for the place kicking job: sophomores Ashton Cornett and Caleb Wright and freshman Wesley Cross. Logan returns to punt.