It appears a bye week and a visit from a winless region opponent is just what the Salem football team needed.
The Seminoles had been on a three-game losing streak, and not just any nearly-month-long losing skid, but one that saw them get out-scored 129-30 by the top three teams in Region 8-AAAAA - Flowery Branch, Clarke Central and Gainesville. But the Seminoles got to regroup with a week eight bye, and then on Homecoming welcomed winless Apalachee to Conyers.
And though the Winder school took a 7-0 lead on Salem just 17 seconds into last Friday’s game, and the Seminoles didn’t score until more than three minutes into the second quarter, once Licash Lackey found Robby Cyrus for a 51-yard touchdown to make it 7-6 (the two-point conversion failed), it seemed it was only a matter of time before the more-talented Seminoles would take over.
That moment didn’t come until after halftime, but once it did - after a botched punt by Apalachee, Tyriano Green’s one-yard touchdown run on the ensuing play and Lackey’s successful two-point conversion run - Salem led 14-7. Early in the fourth, Lackey had a pair of touchdown runs from 36 and 33 yards and Salem had snapped its three-game losing streak and after a miserable start to the season set it sights on a possible .500 finish.
“It was nice. (Lackey) gets on the edge he’s tough to beat. I’m tickled to death to get the win,” Salem coach John Starr said afterwards. “We were a little rusty (but) I’m just glad they hung in there, it was kind of tight. We’ll take it.”
And Starr and his team, 3-5 overall and 2-4 in region play, will take the victory and move on to Athens for this weekend’s league tussle with Cedar Shoals. The Jaguars began the year 0-6, but had no trouble with Apalachee in a 35-6 win October 18 and last weekend knocked off Winder-Barrow, 27-6.
“We still got to keep playing hard,” said Starr, whose team is trying to finish at .500 for the second time in three years after going 2-8 a year ago. “Cedar Shoals is pretty explosive (and) everywhere (you travel to play) is tough in this region.”
Despite its record - 2-6 overall and tied with Salem at 2-4 in league play - Cedar Shoals is averaging nearly 20 points and though the home record doesn’t look all that intimidating at 1-3, the three losses at Waters-Wilkins Stadium have come by a combined 25 points. Cedar has also played well at home against Salem, winning four of five in the all-time series, which it leads 6-5.