Our latest Toyota Player of the Week is a big reason why the Salem Spartans are still alive this postseason.
Arius McConnell made the most of his opportunities against Christiansburg, helping Salem clinch its first regional championship in five years.
“Every play counts,” McConnell said.
It's an approach that has served Arius McConnell well and was certainly apparent in Salem's 21-7 win over Christiansburg. The Spartan senior opened the scoring against the Blue Demons with a nifty 16 yard run to the end zone. He also took a Matt Hill pass and turned it into a 43-yard score late in the game to ice the victory, finishing with 129 total yards in a balanced Salem attack.
McConnell also excelled at his linebacker spot, filling his role on the stingy Spartan defense.
“They didn't wrap up real well and I just ran the ball hard to get everything I could get,” McConnell said. “And it just happened to work out that way getting touchdowns and a couple of extra yards just by working hard. Playoff time, everyone has to try their best. It gets serious now and we're all just working to get to where we want to go, and that's absolutely states.”
Salem coach Stephen Magenbauer said: “He had a couple big plays. He had a touchdown run and he had a good catch, couple good catches and did a good job. He's a two-way player for us and when he gets his opportunities he tries to make the best of them. He's a physical player, one of our physical runners, so he broke a few tackles and made some good plays. We're proud of his efforts.”
Arius is also a track standout and a record holder in the 100 and 200 meters. But while track is much more about individuality, he realizes that his efforts on the football field are part of a much bigger picture.
“We have so many weapons and try to use all of them as much as possible, trying to switch it up for the defense so they don't know who to key on. It really helps our offense out and our defense by keeping their defense on and their offense off the field,” McConnell said.