Tidbits - October 22, 2020

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY



UPSET THOUGHTS
  All of the socially distanced Saluda fans at Bolden Stadium in Columbia had horrible thoughts in the first half Friday, as the Tigers trailed a winless Columbia team 6-2.
  Were we about to witness one of the worst losses in school history, the defending state champs losing to a team we heard was worse than the Eau Claire team the Tigers dispatched 62-14 three weeks earlier?
  Let me clear up that Eau Claire fallacy. Columbia is a whole lot better than the Shamrocks. Eau Claire couldn’t get off a punt, while Columbia’s punter averaged over 40 yards a kick. The Caps had some athletes that could play for anyone.
  Still, they shouldn’t have been held Saluda to two points in the first half.
  Give the Tigers credit. Many favored teams don’t recover from a shocking first half, but the Tigers did, I’m sure after a “word of prayer” from Coach Stewart Young, and outscored Columbia 20-0 in the second half.
  Barnwell, who Saluda beat for the state championship last year, was ranked No. 2 in 2A this year, and hosted winless Pelion, who lost the season’s opener 26-12 to Ridge Spring-Monetta.
  Pelion won 34-26, returning two pick sixes and a kick-off all they way. I’m sure the War Horse fans were stunned.
  North Carolina was ranked number five in the country, and found themselves trailing 24-0 Saturday to Florida State, who had won only one game this year. The Tar Heels staged a valiant rally, but still lost 31-28.
  Greg Deal of the Index-Journal, a Tar Heel man, wondered on Twitter if the number five ranking was the highest UNC football had ever been ranked.
  I quickly replied that the Tar Heels were ranked third in 1981, when the Gamecocks came to Chapel Hill and won 31-13. That was the best game ever for Gamecock quarterback Gordon  Beckham who completed 11 straight passes.
  Gamecock fans will remember losses to Furman, The Citadel and Appalachian State, to name a few, but nothing compares to the second ranked Gamecocks losing to a four-win Navy team in 1984. A win over the Midshipmen and the Gamecocks go 11-0 in the regular season, which would have put them in the National Championship picture. I’ll never get over that one.
  Yes, the Saluda Tigers flirted with disaster in the first half, but the players dug themselves out of the hole and won the game. It was a character builder for a very young team, for sure.
  I hope that carries over to Saturday’s game with old rival Batesburg-Leesville.


  ONLY 87 YEARS
  Carolina beat Auburn for the first time since 1933 Saturday at Williams-Brice.
  When Mr. Billy Coleman died in 2019 at the age of 103, I shared in my column some of the many stories he told me through the years.
  One of my favorites was when he and his college roommate took the train to Auburn for the Auburn-Carolina football game in 1933. They had $8.00 between them, so they decided to gamble with some other passengers to raise extra money, and lost $5.00!
  They still successfully made the trip on $3.00! Mr. Billy often said that was the first and only time Carolina beat Auburn, until Saturday.
  David Sawyer, one of Mr. Billy’s law partners, like me immediately thought of Mr. Billy’s trip to Auburn when the Gamecocks won Saturday, and told me another story about that trip.
  When the game was over, Mr. Billy and his roommate had a long time to kill before the train arrived that would take them to Greenville, where they would catch a connecting train to Columbia.
  They were walking in downtown Auburn, which David said is not much bigger than downtown Saluda, when Mr. Billy heard someone call his name.
  Startled, he looked toward the town’s theater and saw that the man calling his name was the man who used to manage the theater in Columbia, where Mr. Billy attended regularly. What are they odds of that happening?
  When Mr. Billy explained the situation, the man offered to let them watch as many movies and eat as much food as they wanted free of charge until their train arrived. With the little money they had squirreled back, they successfully made it home to Columbia, and Mr. Billy had a story to tell for 86 years. I wish he had been around Saturday, so he could have seen both victories.
  I did a little math, and discovered Mr. Billy was only 17-years-old when he made that trip. That was mighty brave for a little country boy from Saluda. Of course, we know Mr. Billy was brave, because 11 years later he piloted a landing craft on D-Day.


NO ONE
  Of course, I haven’t seen any Big Ten or PAC 12 teams play, but of the college teams I have seen play, I don’t think any of them hold a candle to Clemson.
  I’m enjoying the season, but we could just go ahead and let Clemson and Alabama play for the National Championship. Clemson would be favored  because the Tigers have a defense.
  Who would have thought that of the Power Five conference, the SEC ranks last in defense.
  Covid times....


JOHN ROBERT
  I was saddened at the death of my old friend John Robert Crawford Friday.
  John Robert was one of my childhood heroes, because he was a member of both the 1962 and 1963 Saluda High state championship football teams.
  He was No. 38, the All-State fullback.
  Mooney Player had a play that took great faking from John Robert and quarterback Ray Hesse. Ray would appear to hand off to John Robert, hide the ball, then throw a pass.
  I was 12-years-old, watching from the end zone as the Tigers trailed Strom Thurmond. The fake to John Robert play was called, and Ray threw a touchdown pass to Jim Brown, but they faked it too well. John Robert’s carry was blown dead like a tackle, even though he didn’t have the ball.
  I remember how infuriated all Tigers were, but the play fired Saluda up and the Tigers won 20-13, and went on to a second straight state title.
  John Robert devoted his life to education. I believe he was the first head football coach at King Academy. Eventually, he came back to his alma mater, Saluda, and was a teacher, coach and administrator.
  He was an administator in Pelion when he retired.
  I always enjoyed being around John Robert and hearing all his Saluda stories.
 He will be greatly missed.