Seniors led Salem to playoffs

CONYERS - Salem's 2007 football season can be described in one word - fantastic.

The Seminoles reeled off nine straight victories to capture their third Region 8-AAAA championship in the last four seasons and earn their fourth trip to the state playoffs in the last six years.

Salem's season ended with a 24-0 setback to St. Pius in the first round of Class AAAA state playoffs, but that loss didn't detract from a successful second season under the leadership of coach Chad Estes.

"We were (Rockdale) county champions, subregion (8-AAAA South) champions and region champions," Estes said. "We won nine games in a row and made it to the state playoffs. It was a great season."

One of the keys to Salem's success this season was an outstanding senior class.

"On offense, we are losing (quarterback) Terrance Davis, (running back) Alex Miller, (halfback) Sam Ahonen, (tight end) Blake White, (guard) Danny Quach, (tackle) Josh Taylor and (guard) Brandon Sheppard)," Estes said. "On defense, we're losing (linebacker) Alex Wilson, (defensive end) Zach Roddenberry, (safety) Corey Shields, (cornerback) Kris Sykes and (cornerback) Dacquery Robertson. Also, we lose our placekicker, Koy Manget. I can't say enough about the work ethic, character and leadership that this year's senior class exhibited. They will be missed."

Even with those departures, the Seminoles will still have plenty of talent back next season.

On offense, JoJo Smith will replace Davis at quarterback. This fall, Smith did an outstanding job filling in for Davis, who missed time with a hamstring injury.

Center Sam Watts and tackle Blake Hullett will be back on Salem's offensive line. Running back Bradley Moon and wide receiver Dramel Oubre will also return.

Defensively, the Seminoles will return seven players next season that started in 2007 - linebacker Bobby Martin, defensive ends DeJone Butler and Brandon Hill, defensive tackles Jeremy Holland and Nick Dennis, and safeties Tyrel Wellington and Tyler Askew.

Salem's goals for the offseason and for next year will be the same as last year.

"At Salem, we are always stressing academics and the weight room," Estes said. "Our goal will always be winning the region championship."

Jeff Gillespie can be reached at jeff.gillespie@rockdalecitizen.com.