“Who are we? Can you guess? The football team of VHS!” is the inscription on the back of this Valley High School football team photograph taken in the 1890s.
The team is posing in front of its school — Valley High School in Spottswood in southern Augusta County. The school, which was first a private school and then later part of the Augusta County public school system, operated out of the stone building that originally served as a church for Old Providence Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in the late 1700s.
Eventually the school moved to a new building in the middle of the village of Spottswood and was renamed Spottswood High School. When Riverheads High School was built in the early 1960s, Spottswood High School was closed and absorbed into Riverheads. No wonder Riverheads is such a state football powerhouse today if the community has had a football tradition that stretches back well more than a century!
The current Gladiators are probably pretty glad their uniforms have just a tad bit more padding then those of their predecessors. And look at that football. It would be hard to pass such a round ball. But that was not a problem for the VHS gridders as it would be another decade before the forward pass was even invented. According to most accounts, the first documented legal forward pass occurred on Sept. 5, 1906, when Bradbury Robinson of St. Louis University heaved the ball forward to his player in a game against Carroll College.
The pass was incomplete, which, according to 1906 rules was a turnover. (Photo courtesy Old Providence ARP Church)