CONYERS -- After Week 4 of the high school football season, things were looking up for Salem. Having just kept Winder-Barrow winless by narrowly escaping with a 22-20 win, the Seminoles sat at 2-2 and 1-1 in Region 8-AAAAA play. Though the toughest part of its schedule was still in front of it, Salem held control of its own destiny in being able to secure one of the league's four playoff spots.
Two weeks later, that control is slipping from the Seminoles' grasp.
Facing two of the finest teams in the region in Flowery Branch and Clarke Central, the Seminoles lost to both by a combined score of 72-18. Last week's 37-0 trouncing in Athens at the hands of Clarke Central put Salem in a 1-3 hole in region play, and with four games to play, it might be a win-out-or-miss-the-playoffs type of situation for the Conyers school. Unfortunately, things don't get any easier this weekend.
Gainesville and its No. 7 state ranking in Class AAAAA and high-powered offense travel to Conyers tonight at 7:30 p.m. Led by one of the finest quarterbacks in the state, Deshaun Watson, a Clemson commitment, the Red Elephants are averaging 44 points per game. Since a two-point loss to West Forsyth on opening night, Gainesville has taken control of the region race with five consecutive victories by an average margin of of more than 32 points. Meanwhile, since allowing 21 points or less in three of its first four games, Salem's defense has slumped badly.
Tonight's matchup will be the first meeting between the schools since Gainesville's 35-7 victory in October 1993.