Right from the get-go, Salem got hit with a bad omen in the scrimmage opener for this year’s football season.
Fortunately for the Seminoles, they don’t believe in superstitions.
Salem beat Sandy Creek 27-13 before a packed house Friday night in a game that won’t show up in the official records, but that told quite a bit about each team’s season outlook.
It was bad news early for the Noles, who lost cornerback Jordon Jackson to what might be a broken leg just two plays into the game. But coach Chad Estes’ squad bounced back after the emotional loss and the sloppy play that followed possibly as a result for most of the first quarter.
"I was pleased at how we played through adversity and showed our talent tonight," Estes said.
Salem kept its collective wits about them, though, and capitalized on a botched field goal attempt by Sandy Creek late in the first quarter to set up the Noles’ first scoring drive.
Starting quarterback Jasijah Smith ran it in from nine yards out with 2:30 left to play in the opening frame, putting the Noles up 7-0. Gaining just 38 yards in the first quarter and still scoring the frame’s only points was a lucky break for Salem, but the team would make their own luck from there.
The Noles kept the ball for more than 10 minutes to start the second quarter, and Smith engineered the strong drive with his arm and his legs the entire way. Julian McLean, who would finish the night with a game-high 64 yards, punched it in from one yard out to make it 14-0 with just under five minutes before halftime.
After Sandy Creek failed to convert its second field goal attempt of the night, the squad put together their best drive of the night, and quarterback Joe Walker scored on 10-yard touchdown run to pull within 14-7 going into halftime.
New faces marked the second half, as Estes took his top quarterback out after Smith – who finished the night 3-for-3 with 37 yards through the air and 39 yards on five rushes with a score – lost his helmet and staggered off the field after a big hit just before the half.
"We came together and did everything right even through some tough times," Smith said. "I had to come out just as a precaution after I took a hit, but I’m fine. I’ll be out there next practice getting at it."
Estes inserted safety Jarrett Brown, last year’s leader at the position, as the quarterback, and he showcased the Noles’ depth on offense by putting on a clinic that was as impressive, if not more so, than Smith’s night.
Brown went 4-for-4 with 100 yards passing and six rushing yards on three carries in just the second quarter, leading the Noles to scoring drives at the eight and one-minute marks. Bradley Moon rushed one of his three game caries in for a two-yard score that made it 20-7 after a missed extra point, and Brown’s 30-yard pass to DeJone Butler set up Tyler Askew’s five-yard touchdown run.
"We showed how much we progressed from last year already," Brown said. "We came together, and I made sure to play my role for my team."
That last score made it 27-7 for the Noles after three quarters against a team that went undefeated in the regular season last year, and it marked the end of the game for all intents and purposes as the junior varsity squads played out the fourth quarter to a 27-13 final score.
"You saw the offensive production we can have this season," Estes said. "We have a lot of work to do, but I am comfortable with our situation and how we showed we could play against a good team."