Today's News

  • Sex offender will serve 10 years in prison

    Staff Report

    ABINGDON – On Dec. 7, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon, a Galax man was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison for knowingly failing to update his sex offender registration.

  • Timeless treasure

    SALEM –– In preparations for Saturday’s Group 1A state championship game with Riverheads, Galax coach Mark Dixon said that he felt his Maroon Tide would need some help. A turnover would be useful, a special teams score might be of assistance, a defensive game-changer would be cool.

    Winning the battle straight-up, man-on-man, worked out pretty well for the Maroon Tide, too.

    Galax controlled the patch of real estate between the tackles nearly the entire afternoon but still had to endure a harrowing final sequence of events before hoisting the state championship trophy for the first time after a 7-6 win over the previously-unbeaten Gladiators at a balmy Salem Stadium.

    “I thought we were really physical,” Dixon said. “To be honest with you, the offense was really physical. We just couldn’t finish drives. We’d jump offsides, we’d get a holding call, we’d get off-schedule, we fumbled one, we tried to find ways to lose it. That’s what was worrying me. But it was kind of appropriate for this team to win this way. Probably no other way.”

    Galax (11-4) won its 10th straight after opening the season with a 1-4 mark, with three of the losses coming down to the wire.

    As would this one.

    A Charles Harris touchdown on the Maroon Tide’s opening series stood as the game’s only touchdown until, on fourth-and-goal from the Galax 9-yard line and the fourth-quarter clock down to a few precious seconds, Riverheads quarterback Garrett Campbell scrambled and found Taz Miller in the end zone for a touchdown as zeroes lit up on the scoreboard.

    “My stomach dropped,” said Galax lineman Daniel Edwards.

    Riverheads (13-1) unhesitatingly lined up for a two-point conversion. Following a Galax timeout, Campbell’s pass to Tyler Smith, with Galax’s Jacob Brown in coverage, sailed just out of reach at the end zone’s right boundary.

    “I knew pre-snap that it was a waggle,” said linebacker Caleb Spurlin, who never stepped off the field other than for one play to get his helmet repaired. “I had the fullback in the flats, and I just said to myself, ‘Lord, please let everybody else cover their guy. Please.’ ”

    A play-action bootleg with a run-pass option for the quarterback, the waggle began to unfold in front of Spurlin, just as he had thought it would. Campbell rolled right and released his throw while being dragged to the ground by the Tide’s Christian Brown.

    “I saw the ball go in the air, I looked behind me and it’s on the ground,” Spurlin said. “That was all I needed to see.”

    The few inches between the ball and Smith’s fingertips were all that separated Galax from a masterful defensive effort and an excruciating loss. Having punted just six times in its previous 13 games, the Gladiators punted on each of their first six possessions.

    “They stopped us,” said Gladiators coach Robert Casto, who has brought three state titles to Riverheads since 2000. “I’ve always said it: if you can stop us, you’re going to beat us. They stopped us and they beat us.”

    Galax forced a three-and-out on Riverheads’ initial possession and then drove 57 yards in eight plays. Seven of them were Harris carries, including a one-yard run with 6:31 left in the first quarter for the Maroon Tide’s lone touchdown. Elijah Harrison’s PAT sailed through the uprights with almost 42 minutes of game time remaining, but it would prove to be the decisive point.

    Riverheads, which ran for 400 yards in last week’s semifinal win at George Wythe, was held to one first down and 33 yards of offense in the first half, all on the ground, with 26 of that total coming on a single Colt Miller fullback trap. 

    “We just couldn’t get any push on them,” Casto said. “They were a little bigger than us on the defensive line and they were flying to the football, we couldn’t get any push. And in our offense, if they get more at the point of attack than we do, and we don’t get any push, that’s what happens.”

    “We worked our butts off all week to get this and to learn it and be prepared and everything,” Zamir Echeagaray said. “I felt comfortable because I felt prepared and that we were ready.”

    Galax managed 116 first-half rushing yards but came up empty after Harris’ score, other than keeping the Gladiators’ offense off the field. The Maroon Tide outgained Riverheads 253-214 in total offense for the day, with four plays accounting for 168 of the Gladiators’ total output.

    Galax consumed more than half of the third quarter by driving 74 yards to the Riverheads 4-yard line, but was stopped there on fourth-and-1 late in the period.

    “Their defense was really good,” said Harris, who finished with 173 yards on 28 carries. He ended the season with 3,229 yards, the second-best single-season total in state history and just 91 yards short of the standard set by Powell Valley’s Thomas Jones in 1994. “It was really hard to run on them. But our offensive line kept grinding and I kept running behind them, we just kept pounding them.”

    The Gladiators immediately marched 93 yards in the other direction, keyed by a another huge gain by Miller, a 57-yarder on another trap. The drive accounted for three of Riverheads’ six first downs in the game, but it also came up short of the goal line.

    Facing third-and-1 at the Maroon Tide 3, the Gladiators were stopped for no gain on successive running plays and Galax took over on downs with 6:45 to play.

    Riverheads was unable to capitalize on a fumble recovery near midfield but did take over at their own 27 with 1:14 to play following a Galax punt. Two plays later, the ball was inside the Tide 10-yard line as Landon Deihl carried a screen pass to the Galax 49 and Tyler Smith’s juggling catch gave the Gladiators a first down at the 6. But two running plays, a bobbled snap and an illegal procedure penalty backed Riverheads up to the 9 to set up the finish.

    Dixon didn’t see the end of the game’s final play. He didn’t need to. He’d seen it too many times already in Galax’s 1-4 start.

    “I figured they’d catch it, and that would be the way we went home,” he said.

    Echeagaray did see it.

    “I was like, We finally got one,” he said. “We made history. The Class of 2016 got the first state championship.”



    Group 1A state championship


    at Salem Stadium


    Galax..............7  0  0  0––7

    Riverheads......0  0  0  6––6


    Second quarter

    Gx–Harris 2 run (Harrison kick) 6:31

    Fourth quarter

    Riv–T.Miller 9 pass from Campbell (pass failed) 0:00


                                 Gx    Riv

    First downs             12    6

    Rushes-yards   42-235    37-138

    Passing yards          18    76

    Comp-att-int        3-6-0    3-4-0

    Return yards            15    23

    Punts-avg.         4-36.5    6-35.5

    Fumbles-lost          2-1    1-0

    Penalties-yards     5-30    2-20



    Rushing –– Galax, Harris 28-173, D.Peoples 9-35, Orton 4-32, team 1-(-5). Riverheads, C.Miller 6-88, Schaefer 12-21, Deihl 13-21, Campbell 4-8, Hostetler 1-(-1), team 1-(-1).

    Passing –– Galax, Orton 3-6-0-18. Riverheads, Campbell 3-4-0-76.

    Receiving –– Galax, C.Spurlin 2-14, J.Peoples 1-4. Riverheads, Smith 1-43, Deihl 1-24, T.Miller 1-9

  • Galax wins state championship

    Galax wins state football championship 7-6 by stopping Riverheads' two-point try with no time left. Click here for full story.

  • Group organizing search for Wingler

    Staff Reports

    WHITETOP — After several weeks with no word from a Whitetop man, his family has reached out to an organization dedicated to finding missing people for help.

    Kenny Jarels of Help Save The Next Girl, a non-profit entity, confirmed Wednesday that he was contacted by the family of John William Wingler, who has been missing since Nov. 12.

  • Cuts create challenges for Grayson schools

    INDEPENDENCE — During school budget sessions over the past several years, school superintendents and school boards throughout the Twin Counties expressed the same concerns: due to state cuts in education, it’s becoming more and more difficult to come up with county school budgets that are fair to their staff and students.

  • Galax's tax reassessment explained

    It’s time for the four-year tax reassessment in Galax, and what will this bring for property owners in the city?

    Tax reassessment letters were mailed at the end of November, and property owners should see by now what, if any, changes they should expect. The Gazette spoke to Galax City Manager Keith Barker and Commissioner of the Revenue David Hankley about the results of reassessment and how it works.

    What’s the overall trend on property values this year?

  • Conservatory presents 11th annual 'Nutcracker'

    Treat yourself and your family to one of the holiday season’s most treasured and adored performances, the Conservatory of Dance & Theatre’s annual ballet, “The Nutcracker.”

    Holiday magic envelops the stage at Galax High School as the dancers of the Conservatory and the Galax Youth Ballet bring to life iconic choreography from the wondrous waltz of the snowflakes to the pristine Sugar Plum Fairy variation. Under the artistic direction of Barbara Johnson, the Conservatory will perform its 11th annual “Nutcracker”.

  • Local charities need help

    While the Galax Volunteer Fire Department and Backpack Buddies are both interested in helping feed the needy – the fire department for the holidays and the Buddies in an ongoing effort – both find themselves in further need of donations this month.

  • First title game appearance comes full circle for Galax

    Kids are going to have their heroes. Some of those heroes wear skin-tight spandex and a cape and can leap tall buildings with a single bound. Some of them wear a shiny badge or drive a big red fire truck. Others wear combat boots, or a professional sports franchise’s uniform on ESPN, or bring home a paycheck every week.

    Some of them wear their school colors on Friday nights.


    RIVERHEADS entered the Region 1A East playoffs as the No. 2 seed despite its 10-0 regular season. The Gladiators finished tied with Essex with a VHSL rating of 27.40 but the first applicable tiebreaker was that a team that Riverheads played had an effective nine-game schedule.

    The Gladiators’ 27.40 rating was higher than that of defending 6A state champion Centreville and could have easily earned a spot in the 6A playoffs.