Last weekend against Winder-Barrow, the Salem football team nearly coughed up a 14-point first-half lead and had to sneak away with a home victory over a team that hasn't won since 2009. But Seminoles coach John Starr isn't complaining.
"We were just happy to get a win, under the circumstances. We'll take the win," the third-year head coach said. "We're just trying to get wins at this point."
It's been a roller coaster first month of the season for Starr's bunch. In week one, the Seminoles were penalized for 200 yards but still had no trouble with rival Rockdale. That was followed by a pair of losses to Wesleyan and Heritage; in the latter, the Seminoles were down only 7-0 at halftime before falling 21-7. Against Winder, the Seminoles had to hang on after the visiting Bulldoggs got to within two points with six minutes to play.
"They're big and physical up front on the defensive front and they flew to the ball," Starr said of Winder. They play the run better than most give them credit for. We primarily live and die by the run, and they play the run pretty good. It didn't really surprise me."
Salem is hoping it can once again live by the run when Flowery Branch comes to Conyers on Friday. Quarterback Damian Gordon scored all three touchdowns a week ago, including two on option runs. But first, the Seminoles will need to keep the ball away from the Falcons' high-powered offense. Since starting 0-2, Flowery Branch scored 92 points in wins over Cedar Shoals and Loganville.
"They're going to throw it, spread you all over the field," Starr said. "They're pretty balanced, run and throw, though it looks like a throwing offense. They got a nice fullback, they got a nice quarterback, big physical skill kids (and) that's the big challenge. We got to play assignment football on defense and ball control (on) offense, do what we have to do to control the football. Keep the ball away from them."
The first two games of the series were one-sided as the Hall County school won by a combined 94-22.