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Salem eyes key clash with Loganville

On Friday, the Salem football team will try to avoid something it hasn't done since 1999 - begin a season 0-3.

Against a sound Loganville squad - one that is coming off a bye week - it will be no easy task in the Region 8-AAAA battle.

"I think that the kicking game and whoever can generate some big plays will have the advantage," Salem coach Chad Estes said.

The last time these teams met came in 2005, when Salem won 14-9. Since 2002, the Seminoles have had the edge with a 3-1 record over the Red Devils.

However, this year has not started quite the way the Seminoles

(0-2) originally hoped. After tough losses to cross-town rivals Heritage (21-7) and Rockdale (19-0), Salem is averaging 3.5 points per game.

Defensively, Salem has allowed an average of 20 points per game.

"You have to be ready to play every week no matter what happened the previous week," Estes said.

Last week, the Seminoles were blanked by the Bulldogs, spoiling their debut at the new Seminole Field.

"They have already beaten a very talented Clarke Central football team," Estes said of Loganville's 29-28 overtime victory in Week 1.

Mykel Wyyet scored the game-tying touchdown, while place-kicker Tyler Zielenski added the game-winning PAT.

Despite the dramatics, Loganville coach Eric Godfree has plenty of reasons to be concerned about Salem.

"Offensively, their center (Sam Watts) is really good and controls the middle of the line," Godfree said. "Bradley Moon and Tyone Elliot are both dangerous when they get the ball."

Against Rockdale, Moon led Salem with 80 yards rushing, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. The Seminoles chalked up 228 yards of offense and 14 first downs.

"They play really hard on defense," Godfree said. "Defense seems to be their strength. All four (players) on their defensive front appear to be really strong; there is not a weak link among them. Both defensive ends are exceptional football players. If we can somehow get to the next level running the ball or create any time to throw the ball, we'll be able to move the ball. But with those front four, it is going to be very difficult."

The Red Devils (1-0) hope to maintain their momentum despite having an extra week off.

"Offensively, we have to get first downs and sustain drives," Godfree said. "We want to win the field position battle that will eventually lead to a score. Defensively for us, we cannot give up the big play. We play really good defense and it is hard for teams to drive the field on us, so we must keep Salem from getting big plays."

Regarding the Seminoles, morale is up and spirits remain high. And based on earlier practices, losing to Loganville is not an option.

"I think that (Monday) was one of our best Monday practices of the season so far," Estes said.

Jason Murdock can be reached at jason.murdock@rockdalecitizen.com.