Botetourt gets ‘morale victory’ at Salem; headed for Hidden Valley this week

This week Lord Botetourt is off to Roanoke County for a football game against Hidden Valley. The non-district contest will start at 7:30 p.m. at Bogle Field, behind Cave Spring Middle School.

Both teams are off to 0-2 starts, and you can make a case that Hidden Valley has struggled more than LB. First of all, the Titans lost their quarterback, Michael Simonic, to a season-ending knee injury. They opened the season with a 35-7 loss at Patrick Henry and then were shut out by William Byrd in Vinton, 25-0, last Friday.

The Cavaliers are ready to pounce on one of five lost Salem fumbles.  Photo by Brian Hoffman
The Cavaliers are ready to pounce on one of five lost Salem fumbles. Photo by Brian Hoffman

This will be Hidden Valley’s home opener, and LB fans will be happy that David Williams is graduated. Williams had over 200 yards for Hidden Valley in last year’s 25-3 loss to the Titans in Daleville. With Williams gone and the Titans banged up, this is a great chance for LB to pick up a win.

“They’ve had some injuries, but there will be no easy games for the Cavaliers,” said LB coach Tater Benson. “We’re going to have to play well to beat them.”

This will be Botetourt’s second game in a row on artificial turf. Last week the Cavaliers played well at Salem Stadium and look to build off that close loss.

“I don’t care where we play, I’d play them on the parking lot if they want,” said Benson.

LB gets a ‘morale victory’ at Salem

If there’s such a thing as a “morale victory” in football, put one in the win column for Lord Botetourt.

The Cavaliers went to Salem Stadium last Friday off after a season-opening whipping at the hands of county rival James River, and surprised the experts by giving the Spartans all they could handle in an 18-13 defeat. Botetourt trailed Salem by just five points with 3:50 still on the clock, two timeouts to spend, and a first and 10 at Salem’s 46.

Derell Stone looks for blocking against Salem.  Photo by Brian Hoffman
Derell Stone looks for blocking against Salem. Photo by Brian Hoffman

But, like good teams do, Salem didn’t let the win get away. An LB fumble killed the drive and the Spartans hung on for the win. However, the Botetourt kids sent a message that they still have a lot of football to play this season.

“We could have won that ballgame,” said Botetourt coach Tater Benson. “We played up to our capabilities this week. We came out ready to play. Confidence is 80 percent of it in high school football and that’s why some teams, like Salem, win. The best fight is always between two people who both are sure they can whip the other guy.”

Prior to the game, folks weren’t so sure Botetourt could whip Salem. The Spartans were coming off an 11-1 season and were picked by most to win the River Ridge District. Meanwhile, as mentioned, Botetourt was trying to bounce back from a loss to River.

LB set the tone for the game when the Cavs came out and punched the homestanding Spartans right in the mouth. Salem had trouble running the ball in a scoreless first quarter, and it took a 70-yard fumble return by the Spartans’ Phillip Hughes to break the scoreless tie.

Salem got a second touchdown on a short run but the Spartans missed both extra point attempts and it was 12-0 at the half. Botetourt had missed a chance to cut into the lead with a missed field goal just before halftime.

The Spartans increased their lead to 18-0 about midway through the third quarter when Jordan Daniels broke out of a pack for a 29-yard touchdown run. This time Botetourt blocked the extra point attempt, but three scores down in the third period a lot of teams would have quit.

Not LB. A fumbled punt by Salem seemed to give the Cavaliers new life, and six plays later Jay Phillips passed to Conner Bronson in the end zone for a 12-yard TD play. The extra point attempt was wide, but LB was back in the game.

Botetourt got a break when Salem fumbled the snap on the ensuing possession and Logan Caldwell recovered. Of course, some might say you make your own breaks.

“They had trouble with the snap, but that was because Mark Reynolds was jacking up their center,” said Benson. “Our defensive line was whipping their offensive line all night.”

On the ensuing possession, Phillips broke loose for a 34-yard touchdown, and for the first time all night someone would make an extra point. LB cut the lead to 18-13 and there was still 5:26 to play.

Botetourt held Salem again, forcing the Spartans to punt. The Cavs took over on Salem’s 46 with plenty of time remaining, but Salem’s Hughes forced a fumble from LB quarterback Will Cline and Botetourt wouldn’t get the ball back.

“I can’t ask for anything more from our kids,” said Benson. “We took it to Salem on their own field. We want to be known as a physical team, and I know there were some kids in Salem who were pretty sore getting out of bed Saturday morning.”

Salem outgained LB 286 to 152 for the game. Phillips led the Cavaliers in rushing with his one jaunt for a TD, while Evan Bourne had 17 yards on five carries. Cline was six for 13 passing for 89 yards, including four to Andrew Williams for 46 yards.

On defense, Caldwell had two fumble recoveries and Reynolds had five tackles for a loss. Benson also credited Thomas Kennedy and Jacob Martin for strong defensive efforts.

“Our kids laid it on the line,” said Benson. “We got a lot better this week and we’ll continue to get better. We’re getting there.”

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