P.O. Box 668
Saluda, SC 29138
Phone 864 445-2527
Fax 864 445-8679
TALE OF TWO CITIES
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
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
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
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
Dabo knows what he’s doing. That’s why he’s
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!”
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
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
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
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
Harry, Barbara and Corey were such good people
on this earth, and they walked into heaven
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.