High school football teams prepare for state semifinals

We've got four state semifinal games this weekend.

Salem vs. Tuscarora:

The Salem Spartans will make their 7th Class 4 state semifinal appearance in eight years against Tuscarora.

Coach Don Holter took over for Stephen Magenbauer in the offseason and has made the transition look easy.

The Spartans come in at 12-1, the only blemish is a 49-14 setback against West Virginia powerhouse Martinsburg back in October, which proved to be a learning experience and a chance for growth.

In the last six weeks, the Spartans defense has tightened the screws on opponents, giving up an average of just 13 points a game.

The game is Saturday, December 7, at 2 a.m. at Salem Stadium.

Lord Botetourt vs. Heritage:

Lord Botetourt and Heritage will meet for the second straight year in the Class 3 semifinals in Daleville.

The Cavaliers have had to re-invent themselves just a bit this season after quarterback Evan Eller went down in September with a season ending knee injury, and star tailback Hunter Rice missed two thirds of the year with a broken ankle. It was an opportunity for others to step up.

The Cavaliers are in the state semis for the third time since 2015, and have won 78 games since Jamie Harless took over the program in 2012. That total could have been even more if Heritage hadn't knocked off Lord Botetourt 42-39 at this stage last December in a game that featured a slew of big plays.

Heritage, the defending Class 3 champs are looking to punch their ticket to a third consecutive state championship game.

The game will be held at Lord Botetourt Saturday, December 7, at 1:30 p.m.

Appomattox County vs. Graham

The Raiders have won 66 games in the last five years, reaching the semifinal round in four of those seasons, and have won 3 straight titles in that time. It's no accident that they're now two wins away from a fourth.

The Raiders running game has been a mainstay in recent weeks, and will need to be against the G-Men on Saturday. Christian Ferguson has racked up more than 14 hundred yards and 19 TD's this season, thanks in part to the big boys up front.

The Riaders play Graham at home Saturday, December 7, at 2 p.m for the Class 3 semifinals.

Galax vs. Patrick Henry

The Galax Maroon Tide is in the state semifinals for the fifth year in a row, with a matchup against the undefeated Rebels from Patrick Henry.

Head coach Mark Dixon says his team, which improved to 12-1, has shown significant growth over the course of the season.

Despite its streak of Final Four appearances, the last time Galax won, or even advanced to, the state title game was 2015. The players on this year's team have never advanced past this round.

Kickoff is set for Saturday, December 7, at 3 p.m. at Emory and Henry College.

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