Tidbits - November 23, 2017

TIDBITS bY RALPH SHEALY

FOREWARNED

  I rarely get sick, but when I do it’s a doozy.
  I did my usual routine after work Monday of buying supper from Judy’s.
  I got home, fed the cats, then sat down at my computer to start writing my column and laying out the paper.
  Suddenly, nausea struck and I developed a case of the chills, something I haven’t had in years. I had forgotten how much fun the chills were.
  The last thing I needed is to be sick during Abbeville-Saluda and Carolina-Clemson week.
  At midnight, I felt better. I decided I’d get up and work on my column, then I decided against it. I decided the same thing at 2:00, 3:00, 4:00 and 5:00. Finally, at 6:00 I got up and started writing this.
  I didn’t feel very creative.
  My intention is to write about Saluda football and Carolina and Clemson.
  We’ll see if I can make it through.
  This has been a remarkable three years for Saluda football. If you are a Gamecock fan, it is very similar to those three 11-win seasons in a row.
  I’ll be honest when I say I thought I’d never live to see another Saluda 10-win season. Now, I’ve seem three in a row.
  The 10-3 2015 team was amazing when you consider the 2014 team finished 2-8. That record is deceptive. Had the Tigers had a kicking game, they could have had a break-season.
  Nobody expected the 2015 team to win ten games. In fact, they had to upset Strom Thurmond and Batesburg-Leesville just to make the play-offs.
  In the opening round of the play-offs, a field goal by Dylan Strickland in the dying seconds gave Saluda a win over Keenan. They were underdogs at Chesterfield in the third round, but the Tigers won and made their first appearance in the Upper State championship game since 1973. Abbeville won the game 36-14.
  This 2015 team set all sorts of school records. They lasted exactly one year.
  Offensive stalwarts Malik Brooks and Tyrell Abney returned for 2016, and the team averaged over 40 points a game. They really weren’t’ challenged in the play-offs, but then came Abbeville. The Tigers lost 21-16. Had Saluda not turned the ball over inside the five-yard line twice, they probably would have won the state championship.
  That team graduated over 3000 rushing yards and over 400 points scored. There was no way the young 2017 team could return to the Upper State, was it?
  They did it! It was not as easy as last year’s team. This team came from behind to beat winless Mid-Carolina, struggled to take a 17-14 win over Gray Collegiate, and the outcomes of all three of their playoff games were not determined until the fourth quarter.
  They found a away to win, and they did it with youth. Of all the points Saluda has scored this year, only 24 have been scored by seniors. The future continues to be bright.
  Few will give the Tigers a change to win at Abbeville Friday, but I have learned not to count this team out. Maybe, the third time will be the charm!
  Carolina is a lot like Saluda, and Clemson is a lot like Abbeville.
  Nobody expected the Gamecocks to win eight games. Like Saluda quarterback Noah Bell, Carolina’s Jake Bentley is a sophomore, and most of the skill people on this year’s team return next year.
  While Abbeville has won the 2-A state title for two years in a row, Clemson has played for the National Championship two years in a row, winning last year.
  Friday and Saturday will bring local fans some great football.
  Congratulations to the Ridge Spring-Monetta Trojans, who will host Lamar for the 1-A Upper State Championship.
  The Trojans were down 24-0 to Lewisville Friday, and came back to win 28-24!
  Congratulations, also, to former Ridge Spring-Monetta coach and alum Mark Rodgers, who led the Wardlaw Patriots to their second straight SCISA 8-man football championship. Mark and several of the Patriots players reside in Saluda County.
  That’s about as far as I can go this week. Hopefully, I’ll have some happy stories to write next week.
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