Before Friday's game, Salem running back Julian McLean was crowned the Homecoming King for the Class of 2010.
That was just the beginning of McLean's big night.
The tailback ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns, part of a 358-yard ground attack, in the Seminoles' 41-14 win over Winder-Barrow.
"I couldn't go to sleep (Thursday) night worrying about the game," McLean said. "I didn't even think about the Homecoming King thing. We've been working hard. The offensive line was explosive; they knew they're role coming in and they stepped up."
McLean got going right away. Salem shocked the visiting Bulldoggs by recovering an onside kick on the opening kickoff. The
trickery continued on the ensuing drive as Tyler Askew hauled in a one-handed, 17-yard completion on third-and-long, McLean followed with a five-yard burst on fourth down and three plays later scored from 4 yards to give the Seminoles an early 7-0 lead.
It looked as if Winder-Barrow would find the equalizer on its first offensive possession, but after a 15-play march, quarterback Christian Davila was intercepted at the goal line by Jarrett Brown, the safety's fourth interception in the past two games.
Salem wasted no time adding to its lead, taking a little more than a minute to travel 99 yards and grabbing a 14-0 lead on Jojo Smith's 48-yard scamper on a perfectly timed option veer. Smith, who looked completely healthy after suffering an early-season ankle injury, added a 16-yard touchdown run, part of a 162-yard day, early in the second quarter to make it 21-0.
Winder finally caught a break with a little under four minutes to play in the first half. Smith tossed away an option pitch and Josh Wallace recovered the ball in the end zone to cut the deficit to 21-7.
But McLean exploded for a 41-yard touchdown run just before halftime, and on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Smith had a 61-yard run that led to his 12-yard touchdown toss to Jeremy Holland to push the lead to 35-7.
"We have a lot of good players; (McLean is) just one of many weapons we have," said Salem coach Chad Estes, whose team improved to 5-3. "With Jojo finally healthy, Bradley (Moon), Tyler (Askew), teams are going to have to account for all of them. I'm just excited about our offensive football team. Offensively, we're putting points on the board."
Not to be outdone, the Salem defense harassed Davila and limited the Bulldoggs no-huddle offense. The Seminoles picked up six sacks, two each by Tyrell Wellington and Dontavious Price, and Winder-Barrow (2-6) managed just 131 total yards. With Winder driving in the third quarter, Askew returned a fumble 74 yards to the one-yard line and Smith scored from two yards to extend the lead to 41-7.
"That's two games in a row we've played good, solid defense," Estes said.
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.