Tidbits - September 23, 2021

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY


GEORGIA NOT ON MY MIND
  My two teams, Saluda and Carolina, lost to teams from Georgia by a combined score of 107-20 over the weekend, so I’m not overly fond of the Peach State, presently.
  Clemson did get a little revenge for our state with the 14-8 “crushing” of Georgia Tech, a team that lost on the first game of the season to Northern Illinois.
  I guess there are not many happy fans, because no one likes to lose nor enjoys a poor performance in a win.
  In the Saluda - Rabun County contest, I saw the Wildcats play as close to a perfect game as I have ever seen. They did commit three penalties, but other than those, they did nothing else wrong. It was uncanny.
  This was not your ordinary team, folks. They’ve already played a game this year on ESPN. Our boys play on SaludaNOW, which is great, but the Wildcats have played on national TV.
  Rabun County returned 19 starters from last year’s team, including the Number 5 rated quarterback in all the land, Gunner Stockton. The last time the Bettis Herlong Stadium at Matthews Field hosted the No. 5 player in the country was never. Some players who had good pro careers played here, but never anyone so nationally recognized as Gunner.
  He lived up to the hype, completing 18 of 21 passes for 401 yards and five touchdowns. He’s also an outstanding runner, but when you complete 18 of 21 passes for 401 yards, you don’t have to run.
  In my 44 years covering the Tigers, I don’t recall any other quarterback passing for over 400 yards.
  Gunner will go on my “Best SHS Opponents I’ve Seen”  list.
  The first to go in the list was Ira Hillary of Strom Thurmond.
  In 1980, Saluda got off to a great start and entered the Thurmond game highly ranked in 2A. Hillary put on a show and the Rebels won 34-0.
  Hillary would drop back to pass, but when the Tigers put on pressure, he ran out of trouble, and ran and ran and ran.
 Of course, Ira went on to be an outstanding wide receiver at Carolina, and played in the pros.
  Number two on the last is David Melton of Chesterfield in 1999. He was primarily responsible for his team eliminating Saluda from the play-offs.
  In my article on the game, I wrote: “David Melton did everything, but direct the band. The senior threw two touchdown passes, ran for another TD,  ran a two point conversion and passed for another, returned an interception 73 yards and tipped a potential Saluda game winning field goal. He finished the night with 202 yards passing and 105 yards rushing.”
  I didn’t put in that paragraph, he also did the kicking off. I don’t know what happened to Melton, but I’ll always remember that performance.
  Despite the fact, Saluda lost 63-7 to Rabun County, we will always remember all the talk that came with the game and the good turnout of fans. We can add the game to the “we were there” file, and when Gunner wins the Heisman, we can say, “I saw him when....”
  Saluda is just as good team after the game, as it was before the game. The Tigers can get back to playing normal teams, the kind that make mistakes.
  You might surprised to know Rabun County High School began in 1949 and has NEVER won a state championship, and has only played for the state title once, 2017. I got a feeling that are going to make that twice this year. They are only ranked 2nd in 2A. I hate to see the top ranked team!
  Gamecock great Connor Shaw’s father was a long time coach at Rabun County. He retired and his son Jaybo, also a former college quarterback, is the current coach.
  Because of the Connor connection, perhaps, Gunner originally committed to Carolina, but when Muschamp was fired, Gunner changed his commitment to Georgia.
  Well, every Carolina fan can tell you. Georgia doesn’t need another quarterback! Maybe, Shane can get him to switch back. I hope so.


AMAZING COMEBACK
  Did you read about the amazing comeback a high school team from Hamilton, Arizona, accomplished?
  They were playing one of those across state line games, like Saluda, against a team from Nevada and were down 24-7 with 1:10 to go in the game.
  They kicked a field goal to make it 24-10, then had a successful onside kick. They scored quickly to make it 24-17.
  Again, they converted the onside kick, and still had 27 seconds left. They went in to score and converted the two-point play to win, 25-24.
  They scored 18 points in just over a minute.
  I would much rather lose 63-7, than lose 25-24, when you led 24-7 with 1:10 to go in the game.


WE’LL MISS
  Dot Johnson was always “dressed to the nines.”
  When I was in high school, she graciously allowed our 1969 yearbook staff to use her beautiful home on the Columbia Highway to take honors and beauty queen photos. I remember the staircase with portraits of her daughters Brenda, Joye and Jill on the wall.
  Her family owned concrete company was a successful Saluda County business for many years.
  I always enjoyed talking to James Hawkins. We would hit up at least once a month at Shealy’s Barber Shop when I’d take papers by. I’d also see him at the events that featured his grandchildren, from football games, to Farm Bureau meetings.
  Judy Matthews was at Emory Church two weeks ago, then she had a stroke and was buried last Friday. Our little church was already sad with some members battling Covid, and this made it worse.
  Judy was a sweet lady.