P.O. Box 668
Saluda, SC 29138
Phone 864 445-2527
Fax 864 445-8679
Email sentinel@saludasc.com




  How does a football team go in two years time from being 11-2 and fourth ranked in the country to being the worst team in the SEC and the third best team, maybe, in South Carolina?
  And how does a team go from being 2-8 one year to being 10-2 and a game away from the state championship the next?
  Carolina went from being 11-2 in 2013 to 7-6 last year. The 7-6 record is deceptive, because had the Gamecocks had any defense at all the team could have gone 10-3 or even 11-2, which would have made this year’s team look even more miserable.
  The problem rests squarely on the shoulders of Steve Spurrier. When Ellis Johnson resigned as defensive coordinator to take the head coaching job at Southern Miss, Spurrier should have gone after a proven defensive coordinator. Instead he promoted from within.
  When defensive line coach Brad Lawing, one the best coaches and recruiters around, left, Spurrier allowed the defensive coordinator to replace Lawing with a defensive line coach off of one of the worst defensives in America.
  Spurrier hired John  Hoke as co-defensive coordinator at the end of last season, but he wasn’t allowed to restock the staff, so what was the point?
   Because the defense was so awful last year, Spurrier couldn’t get the back-up quarterbacks many snaps, so this year’s quarterback situation has been a debacle, with a former non-scholarship bag boy from Publix winning the job.
  I remember we Carolina fans laughed a Dabo when he hired Brent Venables from Oklahoma and doubled his salary. How stupid was that?
  We’re not laughing now. We all thought Clemson’s defense would fall off this year like Carolina’s did last year. Didn’t happened did it? Good coaches and good recruiters make a difference.
  Dabo knows what he’s doing. That’s why he’s 11-0.
  Look at North Carolina. The Tar Heels were 6-7 last year with a defense as bad as the Gamecocks. Larry Fedora went out and spent money on Gene Chizik as defensive coordinator and the Tar Heels are 10-1 this year.
  Saturday’s loss to The Citadel was humiliating. The University of South Carolina was out-coached and out-played by a school with 2250  students.
  I really like Shawn Elliott but any chance of him ever getting a head coaching job after this may have been killed by the Bulldogs.
  There was awful coaching by the entire Gamecock staff in this one, and most of the players gave an uninspiring performance.
  The offensive and defensive lines, though 50 pounds heavier per man than the Bulldogs, were manhandled.
  All this had to happen while Clemson is 11-0 and ranked number one in the country.
  What can Gamecocks fans say? We have no comeback, except to hope Clemson keeps the score under 100.
   Saturday is going to be like Butch and Sundance running out of the building, only to get shot by 400 soldiers.
  I was halfway there in 2003 when Clemson scored 63 at Williams-Brice - halfway because I left at halftime.
  Clemson could easily score that many points against the Gamecock defense that can stop no one, but the Tigers have tended to play down to the opposition, ONLY winning by 20.
  I don’t know if Clemson can get down as low as the Gamecocks, but I think the Gamecocks may be ashamed of the way they played against The Citadel and make a game out of it. Why not? What have they got to lose?
  The Saluda Tigers have brought such joy to this community this season.
  It’s been since 1973 that they Tigers were a game away from the state championship.
  Like Carolina, last year’s Saluda record was a bit deceptive. Had the Tigers had consistent placekicking last year the Tigers would have been 5-5. Also, who knows what might have been had this year’s 2000-yard rusher Malik Brooks not broken his arm in the season opener and missed the rest of the season.
  Saluda has had some good talent for the last few years, but hasn’t gotten the breaks.
  Five years ago they had undefeated and top ranked Woodruff beaten, but fumbled at the Wolverine four-yard-line and it was returned all the way for the winning score.
  The next year, they lost to Abbeville 6-3 in the playoffs and the Panthers went on to play for the state championship.
  The next year, a two-point try failed against Batesburg-Leesville and the Tigers lost by a point. B&L went on to win the state title.
  They’ve been so close.
  This year it has all come together. Yes, there have been two losses, but in the last five games of the season, they have beaten Strom Thurmond, Batesburg-Leesville, Keenan and Chesterfield, all excellent teams.
  I know a lot of people wanted the Tigers to meet Batesburg-Leesville again in the Upper State championship, because the Tigers beat B&L 52-34 a few weeks ago. Although such a game would have been at home, I did not want to meet the Panthers.
  Playoff history is my reasoning. In 2003 the Tigers beat B&L 26-13 in the last game of the season to win the Region title. A few weeks later B&L came to Saluda in the playoffs and beat the Tigers 28-0.
  A few years ago, Saluda beat Abbeville in the regular season, and in the playoffs Abbeville returned to Saluda and won 21-0.
  I wanted to play a team that had beaten us, and I am going to get my wish. I don’t think Abbeville will win  48-20 this time.
  Regardless of what happens, this 2015 Tigers have entered the realm of greatest SHS teams ever.
  The team and the coaches have gotten better and better each week.
  This is a young coaching staff that can relate to the kids, and I hope Ray Tanner hires along the same philosophy.
  Frankly, I’m tired of Carolina hiring coaches my age!



  Of course, fans of the Saluda High get upset when the Tigers get very little coverage out Columbia’s television and newspaper outlets, when we’re only 45 miles away are part of the Columbia metropolitan area.
  There is one exception, however. Jonathan Rush of WNOK 97.5 mentions the Tigers quite a bit.
  Of course, it helps that Jonathan is from Saluda.
  After he mentioned the Tigers and me one day last week, Christie Shealy posted it on Facebook, and thanked him for giving us coverage.
  Soon Jonathan posted a memory of going to Saluda High games when he was a little boy and it’s hilarious.
  Here it is:
  “One of my most fond memories of being at Saluda High School home games was that you had to watch the game, and KEEP A LOOK OUT for Russell Winn!
  He was forever running around and pulling the top off your cotton candy on a stick (which was actually a rolled paper cone).
  Mr. Holly Price used to be in charge of cotton candy at the home games. I went home after church one time with Jason Price, and I saw the cotton candy machine in their basement!
  Jason cranked it up and we blew cotton candy all over the place and ate it til I almost threw up! I miss the good ole days!”



  Wayne Grice, Danny Bledsoe and I were riding home from Chesterfield after Saluda’s big win Friday.
  Like all the Tiger fans who filled the visitors’ side of the stadium 130 miles from home, we were on “cloud nine” about the Tigers earning a trip the Upper State championship game.
  We were nearing McBee and as I scrolled through Facebook, I saw Beverly Hurt Riley post that Harry and Barbara Gunnells and their grandson had been killed in wreck earlier in the day.
  Our emotion went from elation to devastation just like that.
  I’ve known Harry and Barbara since they moved to Saluda. Their son Stephen played on my Yankee little league team. He was small, but gave it everything he had.
  Through this newspaper, we worked with Harry a great deal in his capacity as Saluda Postmaster. He was always a class act.
  When Harry retired, he and Barbara decided to stay here. Saluda had become their home.
  People in Saluda knew Harry loved to walk, and was seen traversing his regular route every day. Barbara also walked, but later in the day.
  Since the tragedy, I have learned how active Harry and Barbara were in Red Bank Baptist Church, and how devoted Harry was to the Saluda County Library.
  Their 16-year-old grandson Corey, who died with them, had spina bifida, but that did not stop him from playing in the Greenwood High School marching band.  
  Needing a wheelchair, Corey couldn’t ride the band bus to away games, so Harry and Barbara would take him, and at home and away Harry would push Corey onto the field while the band played and marched.
  Harry, Barbara and Corey were such good people on this earth, and they walked into heaven together.
  I cannot imagine what Harry and Barbara’s children, Kim and Stephen, are going through, and I can not fathom burying my parents in the morning and my son in the afternoon in another town, like Stephen had to do Wednesday.
  This community deeply mourns with them, and has them in our prayers.