FFE Player of the Week: Week 1

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Salem senior wide receiver, Viante Tucker, is now a four-year starter for the Spartans, and he know what it takes to be part of a winning program.

Tucker was a game changer last week for Coach Stephen Magenabauer and company.

At times last Friday, the defending back-to-back 4A state champs didn't look like defending champs.

Salem built a 13-3 lead over Amherst County, after Viante Tucker took this pass 70 yards down the sideline early in the second quarter. But the Lancers would rally to take a 24-13 lead into the half.

"We were down at half time, and so we needed to make big plays in the second half. Coach Mag said we need to deserve it, so we had to step up big," Tucker said.

Still down eight in the 3rd quarter, Tucker hauled in this 41-yard pass, letting his teammates know that this game was far from over.

"Just pumping them up, and telling them that we're always going to be here. We know we have a huge target on our backs at all times," Tucker said.

"Sometimes athletes, they get that little look in their eye, and they get in a zone, and he was like that. Being a receiver, you can't just hand him the ball, so we needed to put it up there and let him go get it," Coach Stephen Magenbauer said.

And with momentum swinging their way, the Spartans decided to let him go get it again, on the very next play.

"It was a second bomb in a row. We ran it the first time, and then we ran it again, and I was kind of tired, honestly, just to get it off. And Jack made a good enough pass as he could, and I had to make a play for it," Tucker said.

"Honestly, I thought he was going to pick it off, but it was a little to high for him, and it tipped right into Viante's hands. I just threw my hands up. I was just glad that he caught it," Salem Junior Quarterback Jack Gladden said.

That touchdown would help tie up the game, as Salem would score the final 25 points of the contest to win the game 38-24.

Tucker only had five receptions on the night, but accounted for 231 of Jack Gladden's 281 passing yards. And Viante says a lot of hard work has gone into his progression as a receiver.

"Just knowing what I'm there for, and knowing what I have to do to make our team better, and just knowing we have to compete. I have to go out and block, I have to go out and make good catches, I have to do everything. Just mainly, knowing what my role is, as a teammate and as a senior," Tucker said.

"We haven't had a guy like him in a long time here. To have a game like that as an individual receiver, to have that type of yardage, those types of catches, and really to change the momentum for our team, it's pretty special," Magenbauer said.

And after that special performance, you can be sure, Coach Magenbauer will be calling Tucker's number plenty of times this season.