Tidbits - October 26 2017

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY



FAVORITES

  The 1997 Saluda High football team will be recognized at Friday’s game on the 20th anniversary of their region championship. This will always be one of my favorite Tiger teams.
  The last three SHS teams, including the current one, have combined to compile a 30-6 record. Fans have certainly enjoyed watching these teams play. They have all been school record breakers. They’ve made is as far as the Upper State Championship game twice, and will be gunning to reach that plateau again this season.
  Football has enjoyed some recent success. Since 1997 Saluda has been to the state play-offs, 13 times. Prior to 1997, Saluda High had been to the state play-offs twice in 32 years. Those years were 1973 and 1993.
  The 1997 team earned the school’s first region championship since 1973, and the first play-off win since that same year.
  What is remarkable about the ‘97 Tigers is they were picked to finish dead last in the conference, yet they went through the region schedule unbeaten.
  The conference title came down to the last regular season game, and it was at, you guessed it, Abbeville, the team that has eliminated Saluda from the play-offs four straight times.
  This time, however, the Tigers did the winning, beating Abbeville 19-18.
  For frustrated Saluda fans, who had endued one-win, two-win, three-win and four-win seasons, the phrase “Region Champions” was a reason to enjoy a sleepless night. It had been so long coming.
  Personally, the 1997 team meant even more to me, for you see, my father, Shake, was dying at that time.
  We found out Daddy’s cancer had spread to his brain the same day Saluda beat Abbeville for the title.
  The 1997 team provided great joy to my family in time of great despair. Football is NOT just a game in some respects.
  Daddy was listening on the radio the night we won that region, and I know it brought back memories of when his nephews Larry Thompson and Russell Shealy were members of the 1962 and 1963 state championship teams, and his brother Ed and first cousin Bettis Herlong were members of the 1941 state title Tigers. He didn’t have any close relatives on the 1997 team, but his son Jamie was on the coaching staff.
  Daddy lived two more months, and his last memories of Saluda High football were good ones.
  I thank Coach Donnie Woolsey and the 1997 Tigers for that.

MORE NOSTALGIA
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  If Saluda beats Fox Creek Friday night, it will mark the first back-to-back region football championships since 1962 and 1963.
  To put that into perspective, Ray Hesse, a Hall of Fame inductee tomorrow night, played on those ‘62 and ‘63 teams, and he’s 71-years-old.
  The only other SHS teams I can find to win back-to-back titles were 1955 and 1956. These two teams played for the state championship, but lost both times to Summerville.
  If the Tigers win, Coach Stewart Young will share the back-to-back title honors with Mooney Player and Bettis Herlong. That’s pretty good company!

NOT JUST A BYE

  I’ve known Carolina and Clemson to have a bye on the same weekend before.
  As someone on radio said, there were probably more weddings on last Saturday,  than on any Saturday during the fall.
  While Carolina and Clemson have been off at the same time, I don’t ever recall Saluda High also not having a game. It made for a pressureless weekend.
  We could just watch games and not care who wins or loses.
  Saluda got an easy win when C.A. Johnson had to forfeit. The Hornets got into a fight with Eau Claire in their game a week earlier, and after the player suspensions were handed out, Johnson did not have enough players to field a team against the Tigers.
  Last year, Saluda won 57-0, after leading 44-0 at the half. The refs started continuously running the clock in that game during the second quarter. This year’s game probably would have been more of the same.
  Still, it’s a not just an easy win.
  Friday was supposed to be Homecoming, and that puts even more people in the seats. Multiply several thousands fans by $7.00 a ticket, and it is suddenly a lot more than an easy win.
  Take away one game’s proceeds from the Saluda Primary School’s 50/50 promotion, the athletic and band booster concessions, and game program sales and add that to the gate receipts and you have a major financial loss, all because a few football players could not control their tempers.
  And the school that gets penalized in the pocketbook had nothing to do with the fight.
  Also, let’s not forget the individual statistics the players could not accumulate. Any quest for school records is missing an entire game. Hopefully, the Tigers can go deep into the play-offs and players who have a chance for school records will get an opportunity.
  It will be a shame, however, if they don’t get the records because of a forfeit.
  Like I said, it’s not just an easy win.

RESPECT

  One of Aretha’s greatest songs is “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”
  In the world of sports, respect is something you earn,
  In college basketball, if you are Kentucky, UNC or Duke, and make the Final Four but lose four players off your team, you still begin the next season ranked in the Top Ten.
  If you are the University of South Carolina, and you lose four players off a Final Four, however, you are not only not ranked in the Top Ten, you are not ranked in the Top 25 either, and you are picked to finish 11th out of 14 teams in the SEC!
  That is not “R-E-S-P-E-C-T!”
  Losing Sindarious Thornwell is Carolina basketball’s equivalent of Clemson losing DeShaun Watson in football. Mainly because of their defense, the Tigers are still a Top Ten team.
  Defense is Frank Martin’s specialty, and while there is no Sindarious on the team, the Gamecocks may be able to surprise some people.
  The Gamecocks lost four good players, but all four of them were terrible shooters. Martin says this year’s team is the best shooting team he has ever had.
  If a team picked to finished 11th in the SEC can make it back to the tournament, then maybe the Gamecocks will get some “R-E-S-P-E-C-T!”