Salem vs. Pulaski County: Old rivalry renewed again in Dobson Friday night

The rivalry between the Pulaski County and Salem football programs renews Friday evening in Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium as the Cougars host the Spartans in the 45th meeting between the two. Pulaski Co. enters the game with a 6-3 record, and an upset victory would likely put the Cougars in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. Salem is 7-2, and has already locked up a playoff bid. The Spartans are the two-time defending Class 4 state champion.

The series has been up and down with streaks being the rule as opposed to give and take from season to season. The Cougars have winning streaks over Salem of eight, four, and three games, but the Spartans are on a roll and have won the last eight times.  Salem leads the series 25-19, but in recent years has benefited from being able to double up in the win column, beating the Cougars four times in last regular season wins, and first round playoff matchups in the same season, eight victories in all.

In order to qualify for the playoffs Pulaski Co. needs to knockoff Salem after coming up short at Patrick Henry last week. Also two of three other teams in Class 4, Region D need to lose, but it seems likely that all three could come up short. Amherst is an underdog to E.C. Glass, Jefferson-Forest a huge underdog to Heritage, and Liberty Christian a big underdog to Rrookville. Should  those three schools lose, or just two of them come up short which appears likely, a Cougar win over Salem sends the team back to the playoffs.

“We will certainly have to play better than we did last week,” said PCHS head coach Stephen James. “We’ve talked about this many times, but we must play a clean game, no turnovers or penalties. We killed ourselves against PH. If we are playing at the top of our game, and don’t make mistakes, we’ve got a good chance to win.”

James knows what his team must stop. “We must stop tailback De’Angelo Ramsey, and we must contain their play action passing game, cover, and tackle Viante Tucker. We must do a better job in the secondary and tackle better all over the field.”

Sometimes fans get caught up in recruiting to Power Five schools, but something like 95 percent of all football players finish their careers with their final high school football game. That’s yet to be determined, but it will be “Senior Night” at Pulaski County, and it’s at the very least, the final home game this senior class will ever play in Dobson Stadium

“Most of our kids have put in four years in the program. It’s my first all four-year group. That’s a lot of time, a lot of work, and a lot of battle scars. You appreciate every one of them, and wish them the best. Our seniors are good kids,” said James.

The seniors taking the field at home for the final time for Pulaski County are Chandler Dunnigan, Brody Fields, Alex Akers, Reymon Williams, Noah Bradley, Kellen Dalton, Mason Clark, Braeden Blevins, Jaceri Eaves, Jaylin Nowlin, John Minnick, Conner Martin, Sean Spencer, Devon Thornton, Levi Gray, Deamon Williams, Travis Byrd, James Stewart, and Nathan Asbury.

Ramsey is a 6-1, 215 downhill tailback, Tucker is the most prolific wide rewceiver in Salem football history, quarterback Jack Gladden can deliver the pigskin. Thomas Munday, 6-3, 300, and John Cardwell, 6-1, 265 lead the way up front for Salem.

Pulaski County will counter with a defense that will have Camden Mariotti, 6-0, 180 junior, Ben Arnett, 5-10, 190 jr., and John Minnick, 5-10, 280, at the down tackles, Noah O’Dell, 6-2, 175 jr., and Eaves will be the outside backers, Akers, 5-10, 190, and Rey Williams, 5-9, 195 will be the inside backers, and Dalton, Martin, Gage Mannon, 5-10, 175 soph., James Jackson, 6-2, 170 soph, and E.J. Horton will be in the secondary. Martin is the punter.

The Cougar offense will have Dunnigan, 6-3, 270 and Fields, 6-0, 270, at the tackles, the guards will be Carter Murray, 5-10, 255 jr., and Logan Fox, 6-2, 240 soph., the center is 6-0, 250 jr. Jaxon Callahan, the tight end Bradley is 6-3, 215, the tailback is Eaves, the sideouts Dalton, Blevins, Clark, and Horton, and the quarterback is 6-0, 215 jr. Kade Akers. Junior Ryan Castle is the kicker.

If you cannot make it out to Dobson Stadium for the game it will be broadcast live on NASH/107 PSK. Airtime is 6:30.

By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot