CONYERS - A 2-0 record with wins over two county rivals is a great way to begin the season. An effective, if not at times dominant, rushing attack (221 yards per game) and a solid defense (20 points allowed and four fumbles recovered) is also nice.
Now comes the real test. Gasports Class AAAA No. 7- ranked Salem, fresh off a 21-14 win over Rockdale and looking to start 3-0 for the first time since the semifinal of 2004, travels to defending Region 8-AAAA champion Loganville. The Red Devils, who were off last week after a slim loss to Clarke Central in the season's opening week, should provide the Seminoles their stiffest competition to date.
"Loganville is the defending region champion; they are very well coached and don't beat themselves," Salem coach Chad Estes said.
The same could be said for Estes' bunch, which hasn't had a single turnover in eight quarters.
"A couple of reasons for our success is that we have not turned the ball over and our special teams have been outstanding this year," Estes said.
So has the running game, led by the three-headed backfield of Bradley Moon, Tyler Askew and Julian McLean. Last week against Rockdale, Moon ripped off a 73-yard run, part of a 130-yard night, while Askew added a six-yard touchdown run that helped finish off the Bulldogs. McLean was the star in the opener, a win over Heritage, getting a touchdown on the ground and through the air. Meanwhile, quarterbacks Jojo Smith and Jarrett Brown have played well under center.
"The first thing we talked about during the summer was that they were going to have to block for one another and be unselfish," Estes said of his backs. "Bradley and Tyler have great speed, whereas Julian is more of a physical, low-to-the-ground runner. We are very fortunate that we have two quality quarterbacks who have done an outstanding job running our offense. They are both competitors who are willing to do whatever it takes for our football team to win on Friday night."
It'll take more than an offensive show to topple Loganville for the fourth consecutive time in the series. The Red Devils also boast an effective rushing attack, anchored by transfer Storm Johnson, who scored two touchdowns against Clarke Central. Salem's defense handled Rockdale's run game, holding the Bulldogs to 169 yards a week after they ran for 322 against Madison County.
"I expect us to play well on defense," Estes said. "Loganville is a power running team, but they will also spread you out and throw the football. They will present a tremendous challenge for our defense. We need to control the football on offense and keep them from having any big plays when they are on offense."
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.
SideBar: At A Glance
· Who: Salem Seminoles (2-0) at Loganville Red Devils (0-1)
· Where: Red Devil Stadium, Loganville
· When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
· Last week: Salem defeated Rockdale, 21-14; Loganville was idle
· Series: Salem leads 4-1
· Last year: Salem won 10-7