Photo: Lee Depkin. Salem's Jahaad Coleman (5) tries to shake free from a Cedar Shoals defender during the Seminoles' 24-21 victory at Seminole Stadium.
Now that's more of what the Salem football team had in mind.
Behind a dominant rushing attack that collected nearly 500 yards on the ground, the Seminoles bounced back from two blowout losses and won convincingly over Winder-Barrow last weekend, 42-7.
Not only did Salem shake the memory of losses to Clarke Central and Cedar Shoals by a combined score of 88-24, but the Conyers school kept alive its hopes for a playoff spot. At 5-4, Salem is a half game ahead of both Habersham Central and Loganville, though both 4-4 teams have one more game at hand than do the Seminoles. No matter how both those teams finish, Salem will probably need a win Friday against one of the state's premier teams --Flowery Branch --to earn a postseason berth.
"Let's be a spoiler. If we can't get in let's spoil it for somebody," Salem second-year coach John Starr said after the win over Winder. "They score a bunch of points and they're a good football team."
That could be one of the biggest understatements of the season. The Falcons, 8-0 and ranked No. 5 in Class AAAA, are averaging 48.5 points per game and only in a 21-13 win over Heritage on October 14 has a team come within less than 22 points of the Hall County school.
For Salem to pull the upset on the road, the rushing attack that showed up against Winder will have to reprise its efforts this weekend. Led by Jahaad Coleman's 240 yards and average of 30 yards per carry, Salem ran for 462 yards on just 37 carries (12.4 per carry) against the winless Bulldoggs. Meanwhile, the defense held Winder to 147 total yards.
"I thought our defense played well tonight," Starr said afterwards. "I'm just glad to see (the Salem players) have fun, I was just glad to see our kids have fun. (And) I haven't been a lot of fun to be around."
If his team can pull off a monumental upset about 65 miles north Friday night, Starr may suddenly become the happiest guy in the room.