CONYERS - As Salem celebrated its first win of the year, 10-7, over Loganville Friday night at Seminole Field, Chad Estes stood alone with his thoughts at the 50-yard line.
After all, it had been an extremely emotional week - and day - for the Salem head coach.
Earlier Thursday, Salem (1-2) lost one of its beloved coaches - Jeff Blount.
"The kids played their hearts out," Estes said with tears in his eyes. "It's been a tough week and a very difficult day. Our kids had to overcome a lot of adversity. We've had some tough hands dealt to us at the start of the season, but they've hung in there, and we've banded together."
Loganville (1-1) wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. After a fumble by Salem quarterback Jarrett Brown on the opening drive, Loganville set up on the Seminoles' 17-yard line.
Six plays later Loganville running back Mykel Wyyet had a 1-yard touchdown run with seven minutes and 54 seconds left in the first quarter. After the kick by Connor Lockridge, the Red Devils led 7-0.
But for the remaining 40:36, the Salem defense held Loganville scoreless.
"It was a total team effort, offensively and defensively," Estes said. "We hung in there and found a way to win. We just gotta keep getting better."
Salem scored on its opening drive in the second quarter when JoJo Smith scampered to the left side for an 8-yard touchdown at the 7:45 mark.
Joseph Schneider's PAT tied the game, where the score would remain the same entering halftime.
Hands down, Salem's defense in the first half - despite allowing a touchdown - was lights out. The Seminoles held the Red Devils to just 29 total yards, including only three first downs.
After a scoreless third quarter, Loganville quarterback A.J. Schmidt was intercepted by Anthony Armstrong two plays into the fourth.
It led to the eventual game-winning, 25-yard field goal by Schneider with 9:37 on the clock.
With 1:47 left at Loganville on Salem's 38-yard line, Schmidt was picked off again, this time by Tyrell Wellington, to end the game.
Corey Nedd led the Seminoles with 21 carries for 59 yards.
"Our defense played great, but it was a total team effort," Estes said. "Our offense did what they had to do, and we're going to continue to get better. We're very young, but I'm just as proud as I can be of them."
Jason Murdock can be reached at email@example.com.