Warriors dispatch Maroon Tide on way to state championship game

Unfinished business.  Those two words have been the mantra for the Chilhowie Warriors football team in 2018.  Those words are in reference to the quest for a state championship for the small Smyth County school.  A season ago, the Warriors came up one game short in that quest, a 42-0 loss to Riverheads in the class 1 championship game.  The Warriors will get a second chance to conquer the quest after a 28-7 victory over the Galax Maroon Tide on Saturday.
The opponent in the state championship game?  Those same Riverheads Gladiators that defeated the Warriors a year ago.  The state championship game is scheduled for Saturday, December 8 in Salem.
The big story before Saturday’s clash with Galax was the venue that the contest would take place in.  After an initial ruling by the VHSL that Chilhowie’s field was suitable to host the contest on Tuesday, the sanctioning body declared 48 hours later the contest would be played at Emory and Henry College’s Fred Selfe Stadium due to field conditions and an impending weather forecast of rain.  The outcry and reaction from Warrior Nation was loud.  The artificial turf at Emory and Henry provided familiarity for the Maroon Tide as they play their home games on the turf in Galax.  The VHSL announced 24 hours later that the contest would be played at Northwood High School in Saltville, which has natural grass as the surface.
The question of if the Warriors could make it back to Salem was answered emphatically in the opening moments of the contest against Galax.  Greg Sanchez took the third play from scrimmage 63 yards to the house in front of the Maroon Tide bench.
Later in the first quarter, Zack Cale scored on a 22-yard run to give the Warriors a 14-0 lead after one quarter.  The two score lead would be all the Warriors would need in the contest.  Cale added his second score of the contest less than five minutes into the second quarter from a yard out to give the Warriors a 21-0 advantage.
Galax was able to score on a Joshua Spurlin 56-yard reception with 2:22 left in the first half to make the score 21-7.  The Maroon Tide made things interesting after forcing the Warriors to punt with a little over a minute remaining in the half.  Galax drove inside the Warrior 15 yard line during the final 30 seconds of the half, but Cale would come up huge on defense picking off a Cole Pickett pass at the eight yard line.
Cale achieved the hat trick and supplied the final margin of the contest in the third quarter with a 3-yard carry.  Cale finished the contest with 85 yards on 20 carries with three touchdowns and also provided 69 yards passing through the air.  Sanchez had one score on 160 yards rushing off 24 carries.  On defense, Todd Martin intercepted two passes as the Warriors snatched four interceptions on the day.
Blake Brown led the Maroon Tide rushing attack with 50 yards on 19 carries.  Spurlin had 56 yards receiving with one score.  Landon Dickson also had 46 yards on four receptions.
Even though Chilhowie and Riverheads met a year ago in Salem with the outcome was lopsided, this year’s contest promises to be a good one.  The Warriors come into the contest averaging over 40 points per game and the defense proved to be phenomenal.  The Gladiators have one setback on the season, a 28-0 shutout defeat at the hands of Class 2 semifinalist East Rockingham.



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