Lake Taylor QB Jeff Foster (Photo: Lance Hinton/recruit757)
Salem travels to Norfolk to take on Lake Taylor
by Andy Hilton, recruit757
Salem (9-0) at Lake Taylor (7-0), Saturday 3:00 PM
Online TV: NFHS Network (subscription required)
If you have a feeling you’ve seen this before, it’s because you have.
In 2015, at Liberty Stadium in Lynchburg, Lake Taylor and Salem met in a hotly contested game. The Spartans won on a field goal in double overtime by a score of 17-14. That win was payback for a 2014 championship game spanking where the Titans handily topped the Spartans, 41-16.
So these two teams have a history.
After trading state championship wins in 2014 and 2015, Salem appeared in the championship game two more times, winning in 2016 and 2017. Lake Taylor also appeared two more times, losing in 2018 and winning it all in 2019.
So maybe it’s time for a revival.
Salem is steady
The Spartans have a pile of trophies. They’ve won nine state championship games and this one would make ten. Those previous championship teams were coached by Stephen Magenbauer and Willis White. A championship this year would be the first for head coach Don Holter.
They topped last year’s state runner-up Tuscarora in the state semifinal by a score of 21-14. That’s solid, and the game was hardly the 44-29 slugfest that Lake Taylor played in last weekend. The Spartan offense is keyed by quarterback DaRon Wilson, who’s tossed eight touchdowns against three interceptions in this shortened season. He’s 28 for 42 passing with 442 yards. By contrast, running backs Zavione Wood (1,118 yards, 16 TDs) and Cam Leftwich (500 yards, 11 TDs) have tripled Wilson’s production.
Chauncey Wilson has seen significant time as a quarterback as well, completing 18 of 39 passes for 325 yards and five TDs.
Virginia Tech walkons Jayden and Jordan McDonald command the defense from the secondary. The McDonald twins can also do some damage as receivers, but the Spartans’ first choice is to win the game on the ground.
Lake Taylor will welcome the run
The Titans and head coach Hank Sawyer are comfortable with what they do best. Quarterback Jeff Foster is an equally adept threat with his legs and with his arm. In the postseason alone, Foster has racked up 637 passing yards, 300+ rushing yards and 20 touchdowns. That’s more than Salem’s two quarterbacks have achieved all season.
Running back Chuck Fisher proved to be a good complement to Foster last Saturday as he rolled up 115 rushing yards and three touchdowns against King George.
Salem likes to run? So what. The Lake Taylor defense held King George to minus-three yards rushing. That came one week after the Foxes had to rely on the run game in order to beat Monacan. Quarterback Charles Mutter did what he could to spark his team against Lake Taylor, even after suffering a separated shoulder in the first quarter, but the Titans had too many ways to stop their potent offense.
Home field advantage should also count for a few points in the Titans’ favor. In high school football, there are few sure things. It looks good for the Titans to get a unique, home-field state championship win.
Kickoff for the championship game is at 3:00 p.m. Saturday. Tickets were sold out as of Noon Friday. We’ll have video highlights and scoring updates from the game available as they happen at recruit757 on Twitter.
– Andy Hilton