The Salem Spartans have not had a losing football season since 1983. A winning pedigree is clearly instilled in the program, but that does not make Head Coach Stephen Magenbauer’s job an easy one. He has quite a bit of change to deal with for the 2013 season, which officially kicks off August 30th when his Spartans travel to Franklin County.
Plenty of talent returns from a 2012 squad that went 12-1, losing in the state semi-final game to eventual Group AA Division four runner up Heritage. But there are also subtractions due to graduation including quarterback Matt Hill, leading receiver and return specialist Chad Fisher, and running back Arius McConnell. As always, Magenbauer is ready for other players to step up and emerge as the next stars of Salem, and he already likes what he sees.
“I like our team. We have really unselfish kids who are trying to step up,” said Magenbauer. “These are guys who want to go out and play hard for their school and their community.”
One thing is for certain – his interior will be anchored by 6 foot 5, 295 pound lineman Alex Light, a two sports star who helped Salem Boys Basketball earn a state championship back in March. Magenbauer will look to the senior for leadership as well being an anchor in the trenches. Light says winning in another sport only translates positively to the football field.
“It has changed my mentality,” said Light. “I now work twice as hard, and put forth extra effort…I can’t take off a play. I want these guys to know what winning a championship feels like.”
Some other spots are not as settled including who will be under center. Senior Tyler Gladden and Junior Austin Coulling are both in the mix at quarterback, and Magenbauer believes both young men can play the position well.
Leading rusher Devante Payne returns, and Salem will no doubt count on him in the backfield after he accounted for over 700 yards and 10 touchdowns a season ago. Coleman Fox will also be a major part of Salem’s offense. Despite only catching 10 passes in 2012, Fox averaged nearly 13 yards a catch and has big play ability. Magenbauer also expects Chandler Hunt, Isaiah Parker, and Davonta Womack to step into major roles this season on the offensive side.
“You’re always going to have offseason changes,” he said. “But it means a big opportunity for some of these kids…we have the people.”
Finally, Magenbauer says the new VHSL alignment has made the Spartans schedule even tougher than before. Patrick Henry, and Carroll County are added to the 2013 slate, while William Fleming and Lord Botetourt will not play Salem, as they had for a number of years. PH will be the visiting team for Salem’s home opener on September 6th.
Look for Salem’s and Glenvar’s complete schedule for all fall sports teams in So Salem soon. Next week, we will preview the Glenvar Highlanders 2013 football season.