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Salem steps up
Jahad Coleman ran for 230 yards against Winder-Barrow on Friday. - photo by William Brawley

After suffering through back-to-back weeks of injury-plagued losses, Salem ran all over winless Winder-Barrow, 42-7, on Friday.

Among the many players who have been hurt for the Salem Seminoles (5-4), none may have made a bigger impact that senior running back Jahad Coleman.

Coleman returned to the lineup against the Bulldoggs (0-8) on senior night, and didn't waste any time getting going.

Coleman was handed the ball on the Salem Seminoles first five plays and put up a dazzling 144 yards and a touchdown. After running for three yards on Salem's first offensive play, Coleman then took the next handoff and sprinted 58 yards up the field for a touchdown with 8:48 left in the first half.

"It was real nice to have a few of them back," Salem coach John Starr said of his injured players returning.

Coleman then sat the rest of the first half, but that didn't slow down Salem's running game any.

On senior night, there was no shortage of big plays from the Salem Seminoles' most veteran players, especially from their running backs.

After Winder-Barrow's Chad Platt scored on a 47-yard run following Coleman's TD, Salem quickly pulled back in the lead.

The Salem Seminoles marched 90 yards on four plays, including a 49-yard run by Coleman on first down to go up 14-7 on Marcus Stokes' 7-yard touchdown run.

Stokes, another senior, finished with 65 yards and two touchdowns on four carries.

"Stokes did an outstanding job at halfback," Starr said. "They all did a good job for us tonight; I just wish we could have had them a little longer."

Salem's running backs ended their high school career at home with a bang, running the ball a combined 35 times for 455 yards. Coleman led the way with 230 yards on eight carries, good enough for 28.75 yards per carry.

Even with Salem ripping off seven plays for more than 30 yards, it was still able to move the ball patiently on the ground. For the Salem Seminoles' third touchdown they marched 76 yards on eight plays, resulting in a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Damion Gordon with no time left on the clock in the second quarter.

Ahead 21-7, Salem then completed the route in the third quarter.

On the opening kickoff of the second half, Eric Carawford ran it back 90 yards for a score, only to have it recalled on a block-in-the-back penalty. That didn't deter the senior, however, as he took a handoff on that drive 31 yards for a touchdown.

It was the fourth run on the drive, with one going for 14 yards another 4 and another minus-4. Salem either hit big with its running game or found no where to go.

"It was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, kind of," Starr said. "We hit it there for few plays, then we weren't, then we hit it again."

One of those plays, where Salem hit it was on Stokes' second TD of the game, a 52-yard run with 7:45 left in the third quarter.

Not to be outdone, Coleman added his second touchdown of the game less than two minutes later on a 78-yard un-touched run up the middle, giving Salem a 42-7 lead.

On their next drive, the Salem Seminoles did something they hadn't all game, punted the ball with 30 seconds left in the quarter.

While punting the ball away was a rarity for the Salem Seminoles - they only did it once - that wasn't the case for Winder-Barrow.

The Bulldoggs had just two first downs - one coming on a penalty, and the other ona 34-yard run - and totaled just 147 yards of offense.

"I thought our defense played well tonight," Starr said. "We still were kind of gimpy on defense but we're playing hard. As long as they're playing hard I think we'll be fine."

Salem will need to play hard against Friday's opponent as they travel to undefeated Flowery Branch in the Salem Seminoles' season finale.

"We're excited about it," Starr said. "They're a good football team, and we want to stand up and fight.
"We want to get Seminole pride and put it on the line. We're definitely not calling it in, we're going to go out there and play."