Salem hosts first 'real' homecoming

CONYERS - When speaking of homecoming, three things are obvious: kings, queens and football.

Nevertheless, when Salem welcomes Madison County during its homecoming tonight at Seminole Stadium, the pressure to win - regardless of the category - remains the same.

"There is pressure to win every week," Salem coach Chad Estes said.

Whether Salem wins or loses, history will still be made by the Seminoles (2-2). Tonight marks the first time they can actually celebrate homecoming on their very own field, which opened earlier this year.

But a win against the Red Raiders (2-2) means first stopping their offense.

"We need to control the ball on offense and score some points," Estes said.

"Madison County is very explosive on offense. They are back to their old self in spreading you out and throwing the ball."

This season, Madison County is averaging 24.8 points per game while Salem is averaging 10.3.

"Salem has a very talented team," Madison County coach Randall Owens said, "but we are really more focused on ourselves - correcting mistakes, eliminating turnovers, etc."

Defensively, both squads remain level, with Madison County allowing 14 points per game compared to Salem's 13.5.

"We have to be able to put pressure on the quarterback," Estes said. "Of course, we need to win the field position battle and the turnover battle."

According to Owens, his squad must also eliminate critical turnovers by its offense.

"(Another key) is our defense eliminating the big gainer explosion plays that they are capable of having with the speed that they have at their skill positions," he said.

During the last four meetings, Salem has had the upper hand (3-1). Its most recent win over Madison County came last year 31-11.

"Our kids have worked very hard to get back to .500 in the region," Estes said of this year's team. "We are still dealing with injuries from earlier in the season but that is the nature of the beast. We have had good practices this week in preparation for Madison County."

As for crashing the homecoming festivities, Owens and company is treating it like any other game.

"The problem with homecoming is just eliminating (or minimizing) distractions," Owens said. "It's hard for fat, balding, 50-plus-year-old men to compete with 16- and 17-year-old girls for the attention of young high school boys. Once you get past halftime, it gets easier. We aren't even aware of anything homecomingish this week."

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

SideBar: If you go

Who: Madison County Red Raiders (2-2) at Salem Seminoles (2-2)

When: 7:30 p.m. today

Where: Seminole Stadium

Last meeting: Salem won 31-11