Salem hosts Clarke Central Friday

After showcasing an impressive offense in a blowout victory over Winder-Barrow, the Salem football team came back down to earth last weekend. The Seminoles, who scored the third-most points in school history with a 60-37 victory over Winder, were beaten soundly by Flowery Branch 38-7 to drop to 2-3 and 1-2 in Region 8-AAAAA. Things don’t get any easier for the Seminoles as Clarke Central heads south to Conyers for a league tilt Friday.

The 3-1 Gladiators, under first-year coach Ahren Self, have bounced back nicely from a season-opening loss to Marist. In three consecutive victories, Clarke has soundly defeated Central Gwinnett in a non-region game and Loganville (27-17) and Apalachee (43-19) in region play.

In the victory over Apalachee, Clarke did it with offense - sophomore running back Jaqua Daniels rushed for a school-record five touchdowns, and with a defense that forced five turnovers.

Salem has been hard to figure out through the season’s first five weeks. The Seminoles have that 60-point performance against Winder, but the Seminoles also trailed by 10 at halftime of that eventual win, and take away that point total against the region’s doormat, and Salem has averaged less than 12 points. Sandwiched around a shut out victory over Wesleyan in week two, the Seminoles scored just 14 points in losses to county rivals Rockdale and Heritage.

Clarke Central has defeated Salem six consecutive times, though after winning by a combined 17 points in the first three meetings, the Gladiators have won the last three contests by an average margin of 37 points. Friday, Salem will try to knock off the Athens school for the first time since 2004.