It’s becoming a weekly occurrence for this potent Saluda offense.
The Tigers are continuing to overwhelm opposing defenses right out of the gate, and Friday’s 49-21 win against Mid-Carolina was no different.
Saluda took a 35-0 lead into halftime behind standout performances from quarterback Noah Bell and running back Montrevious Baker. Bell connected on 14-of-17 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns, and Baker rushed 12 times for 100 yards and three scores in a balanced attack.
The week before, Bell threw a school-record six touchdown passes in a 41-6 win over Ridge Spring-Monetta — all in the first half.
It’s no secret Saluda was going to rely on its passing game and skill players this season, but this is remarkable. It’s why the undefeated Tigers will be a tough out in Region 2-2A this season.
Let’s be clear: Abbeville is still the favorite to win the region, as it should be. But the Panthers are clearly still rounding into form after losing a talented senior class.
The Tigers could be a real threat to the Panthers this season. Saluda is a veteran team led by the senior quarterback Bell and playmakers Dallan Wright, Trey Bryant, Zaye Bryant and Keenan Brooks.
Region 2-2A is still one of the most competitive regions in the state, but the Tigers have made it to at least the third round of the playoffs each of the past three seasons.
Saluda could be in for a deeper run this season. It all depends on how far this high-powered offense can take them.
Elsewhere across the Lakelands, two young teams in Greenwood Christian and Ninety Six overcame early adversity and got their first wins of the season.
Hurricane Dorian created a challenging week for the Hawks, as it canceled Greenwood Christian’s originally scheduled Week 2 tilt with Charleston Collegiate.
Instead, Greenwood Christian played host to Calhoun Falls, which was supposed to be on a bye week. These teams were supposed to play in Week 0, but lightning canceled that game before the first quarter finished.
Greenwood Christian didn’t learn of its new opponent until late Tuesday, and GCS coach Jolly Doolittle liked how his team responded to the situation.
The Hawks’ backfield ran for 233 yards in a 35-12 win. Brett Durham led the charge, running for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Underclassmen Eli White, Cale Mack, Ethan Conner and Miles Fulgham also contributed to the rushing attack.
Conner scored a rushing touchdown in the fourth, and quarterback Gabe Stumbo added two touchdowns, with one coming on the ground. It was a big step forward for a team full of underclassmen on both sides of the ball.
“It was a lot of firsts (Friday),” Doolittle said. “A lot of sophomores scored their first touchdowns, so that was really cool to see. Hopefully we keep stacking on this and have good days of practice next week.”
Over at Ninety Six, it was also a night of firsts for new coach Matthew Owings, who got his first win with the Wildcats after a 21-14 victory over Crescent. Owings felt confident about his group after Wednesday’s energetic practice, which he called “the best day of practice since I’ve been coaching.”
That momentum clearly carried over into Friday’s game, and it should certainly give this youthful Ninety Six team more confidence heading into the rest of the season.