ONE OF MY FAVORITES
I saw Tom Blease after the Saluda -
Batesburg-Leesville game Friday and told him.
“What a great year this has been for us to get
inducted into the Hall of Fame!”
A Hall of Fame induction is big, but for the
2015 Tigers to go 8-2 in the regular season and
beat arch-rivals Strom Thurmond and
Batesburg-Leesville along the way, the honor has
been made even more special for me.
The 2015 team is one of my personal favorites.
I first began paying attention to Saluda High
football in 1962. Prior to that I was playing
football with my friends with a football made
out crushed together paper cups, on many various
spots around the outskirts of the field. The
actual game was incidental.
In 1962 Tom was the star of a team that was
loaded with great athletes and won the Class A
State Championship with a 12-0-1 record. This
team was fun to watch and I had two first
cousins, Larry Thompson and Russell Shealy, on
the team, so I needed to pay attention.
Larry and Russell were also on the 1963 team
that won the title. This team was fun, too,
except they actually lost two games, one to
York, a team the would meet again and beat in
the state championship game.
Then we skip ten years to 1973.
I was an adult when I watched the great ‘73
team. I had two first cousins on that one, too,
Bobby and Danny Thompson. This team went 11-1,
losing the Upper State Championship game to
Was this team fun to watch? Is beating
Thurmond 65-0, Ninety Six 56-0 and
Batesburg-Leesville 33-0 fun? Oh, yes!
Then we have to skip 23-years to 1997. That’s
how long it took for Saluda to win another
The 1997 team was special to me because my
father was dying during that season. You don’t
think football can help you through trying
times? You’re wrong.
The day we found out Daddy’s cancer had spread
to his brain, Saluda beat Abbeville 19-18 on a
rain drenched Panther field to win their first
region title since 1973. The 1997 team, by the
way, was picked to finish last in the region in
It took only six more years to find another of
my favorites, the 2003 Tigers. This team also
won the Region title, and became the first team
since 1973 to beat Strom Thurmond and
Batesburg-Leesville in the same season. This
team was also picked near the bottom in the
My favorite non-winning team was the 2006
Saluda Tigers that finished 5-6. The was the one
and only team in my 53-years of watching that
relied almost exclusively on the pass. Ryan
Nichols threw for over 1700 yards and 20
touchdowns, and Trevor Deloach caught 64 passes,
including 14 in one game!
Then we have the 2015 Tigers. I’m not saying
this is my favorite of my now seven favorites,
but it’s close.
None of the prior six favorites averaged 36
points a game, but the 2015 team has. Only one
Saluda team ever has scored more than the 34
points against Thurmond that the Tigers scored
this year, and that was the 65 scored in 1973.
No Saluda team EVER has scored 52 points
against Batesburg-Leesville like this team did
Friday. The 42 points against B&L in 1962 are
the most I have been able to find against the
They’ve averaged 250 yards a game rushing and
150 passing, and they’ve beaten three conference
champions - 1-A McCormick, 3-A Midland Valley
and 2-A Strom Thurmond, and six play-off teams.
I congratulate Coach Stewart Young, his staff
and the 2015 Tigers. You have given this
community something to shout about, and we’re
not through yet.
This team had to beat Batesburg-Leesville to
make the play-offs, and they responded
I wrote earlier this year how I have been
touched by players and cheerleaders standing in
front of the band and singing the Alma Mater at
the end of the games, win or lose.
They got beat 48-20 at Abbeville and the band
didn’t make the trip, but the players and
cheerleaders sang anyway. They may have lost the
game by 28 points, but singing the Alma Mater
without music made them winners, for sure.
They haven’t lost since!
WHAT IS FAIR?
I did not watch the Duke-Miami game, but soon
after it concluded I started getting
notifications on my phone about the “miracle”
Miami kick-off return, and, of course, I watched
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t see a
miracle. I saw one the Miami players lateral a
ball when his knee was clearly touching the
ground. He was down. Game over.
I also saw a good many other infractions, like
blocks in the back, along the way.
I can understand how refs could miss some of
those on the field, with all the confusion, but
how did the guy in the replay booth miss them,
The ACC admitted the refs and replay guy
missed four infractions that would have made the
touchdown invalid. They suspended the on field
crew and replay guy for two games, but they
couldn’t change the outcome of the game.
Of course, Duke could have eliminated any
controversy by simply making a tackle, but they
That one screw-up by the refs could keep Duke
out of the ACC championship game, and that is a
I apologize to the fans at the Saluda-B&L
game. I try my best not to be an obnoxious
public address announcer.
Friday, when offsetting penalties was called,
I announced, “That’s the fourth time that has
Well, it was, but I don’t think I needed to
tell you all.
As my grandmother used to say, “In all my
borne days,” I have never seen four offsetting
penalties called in one game.
I’ve also never seen defensive holding called
on a running play, but that’s what happened
B&L’s great tailback Terrance Wilson scored on
a 52-yard run, but a flag was thrown where you
normally see offensive holding called. The play
was coming back, I thought.
Wrong! It was called on Saluda.
The call did not effect the outcome of the
game, but it was puzzling to me, none the less.
THE BIG ONE
Clemson is a lot like Saluda in that the
orange Tigers have been fun to watch this year.
The Tigers have had two close games,
Louisville and Notre Dame, and those were by far
the best teams they’ve played.
Saturday will tell the tale, when Clemson
meets Florida State.
I have not been impressed by the Seminoles
this year, but they always give Clemson a good
If the Tigers win, the “Final Four” will be
I’m not being a Gamecock pessimist, but I
can’t imagine Carolina’s awful defense stopping
the DeShaun and company.
Carolina made another novice quarterback look
like a Heisman winner in the Texas A&M game.
Saturday, the Gamecocks play Tennessee and the
quarterback who led the 14 point fourth quarter
comeback last year. Carolina, literally, gave
Tennessee wins the last two years.
Maybe, they can return the favor.