WDBJ7 Sports Director
5:13 PM EST, November 30, 2012
Deep postseason runs are nothing new for unbeaten Salem which will make a whopping 13th semifinal appearance at home Saturday against Heritage. But it's been awhile since the Spartans have gotten to this point. Their last appearance in the semis came back in 2007 when they lost to Amherst County.
“You know we're glad to be here that's for sure,” Salem coach Stephen Magenbauer said. “The past is quickly forgotten and most of these kids weren't a part of one of those teams so this is their time and they're excited about it.”
Tailback/linebacker Arius McConnell said: “It's kind of a little bit of pressure on it but at the same time, this is our team and we just wanna play because we worked hard, so we want this for us and not necessarily the whole town or the school. This is just for us. The coaches want it bad for us too because they haven't been back in a long time, so we just wanna make it.”
The Spartans have averaged close to 200 yards rushing a game this season thanks to the mules up front, which have also done a nice job of protecting quarterback Matt Hill. They'll rely on the same simple formula against the speedy Pioneers.
“This is what we're comfortable with, and I think if you try to change too much for a game like this, you're just not gonna be successful,” Magenbauer said. “So we're gonna do what we've tried to do all year, run the football, and I think we can still throw it too off of play action but we've got to be able to run the football.”
Fresh off their first regional title in five years, the Spartans hope to advance to their 9th state championship game.
“It's gonna be a good game, I'm pretty sure. They made it there for a reason and we made it here for a reason, too. They're shifty. We have our players and they have theirs,” McConnell said.
Magenbauer added: “We have that expectation every year as I think most teams do. We're fortunate we've played well this season and our kids worked hard in the weight room in the offseason and we're in this position right now.”
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