CONYERS - It all comes down to this.
For Salem to secure a spot in the playoffs, the Seminoles must overcome Apalachee (6-3) tonight.
"It will be like a playoff game," Salem coach Chad Estes said. "We must win in order to have a chance to continue playing next week."
For the Seminoles (5-4) to claim the No. 3 seed, not only do they have to beat the Wildcats, but they also need Cedar Shoals to defeat Heritage.
Go back to the second week of the season, and the Seminoles were certainly not thinking about a postseason run. They were 0-2, scoring just seven points total in two games and struggling to find their identity.
"This year we have had to overcome a lot of adversity to have the opportunity in the 10th game of the season to get into the playoffs," Estes said. "The easy thing to do is judge a team strictly on wins and losses; however, there are many more lessons being learned than your record."
Regarding the Wildcats, they are coming off a 55-35 win over Madison County. This comes after Heritage shut Apalachee out 20-0 on Oct. 24.
"Apalachee has two of the best running backs we will have seen this season," Estes said. "John Ansley and John Lee are explosive runners."
Meanwhile, Salem is coming off a disappointing 24-10 loss to Habersham Central.
Offensively, both teams are almost dead even at 14.9 points per game (Salem) and 14.8. Defensively, the Seminoles are allowing 7.8 points fewer than the Wildcats (22.8).
Not only is it potentially the final game of the season for Salem, it is also Senior Night - an evening to remember for the upperclassmen who have dedicated their careers to maroon and gold.
"I will miss their dependability and consistency," Estes said of his 22 seniors.
Jason Murdock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: Apalachee at Salem
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Where: Seminole Stadium
Series: First meeting