Tidbits - November 29 2018

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY



MISERY

  In the third quarter Friday, I fished my phone out of my pocket, punched the weather app and saw that it was 36 degrees in Simpsonville. It was also raining and windy.
  At that point I wondered if this was the most miserable I had ever been in my life. And I agreed with myself, it was!
  I had waited 67 years and almost exactly eight month for this.
  Oh, I have been cold many times. In fact, the coldest I have ever been was at a high school football game when I was 11 or 12 years old. It was either the 1962 or 1963 state championship game at P.C. in Clinton.
  I will never forget the magnificent feeling of the heater in Uncle Julius’ car finally blasting warm air.
  And I have been wet. I think the greatest deluge I have been in was at a Carolina-Kentucky game. The water coming off the upper deck looked like Niagra Falls.
  I jinxed myself two weeks ago, when I wrote prior to the Blacksburg game, I had only been in rain two times at away football games in the previous 41 seasons. (I’m talking about when I sat in the stands.)
  It rained most of the fourth quarter in Gaffney, but Friday at Southside Christian, the rain began about an hour before the game began and it didn’t stop.
  Everything started off with such promise. Before Wayne Grice, Danny Bledsoe and I left at four, Jerry Pow messaged me that a great place to eat was the Green Tomato Buffet, just down the road from Southside Christian. Jerry and his family had eaten there the day before.
  We found it easily, with the help of GPS, and the food was great, including the fried green tomatoes.  It cost less than a burger and fries at Five Guys, by the way.
  When we left the restaurant, the weather seemed to  be fine.
  Before we  left Saluda, I saw something on Twitter about rain being expected for the Abbeville-Central game. It was after reading that, and a little Divine Providence, I made the decision to dig the purple, plastic poncho out of the bottom of the book bag that I keep all my stats and announcing material.
  I also decided to take a stadium blanked I won as a door prize at the Gentry tournament a couple of years ago. I had never used it.
  The Southside Christian stadium has nice stands on the home side and small  stands on the visitor’s side. They increased the seating capacity by adding some nice stands in the end zone.
  About 30-minutes after we arrived, it began to drizzle and the purple poncho came out and had me trapped for the next several hours.
  The plastic was thin enough that it let light in, and I could see my clipboard I use to keep stats. I could write down the plays, but I had to stay seated, and could barely see, looking through the poncho’s face hole.
  When the game began, Wayne started describing the plays, telling me the players and where the ball was spotted. I didn’t write all the details I normally write, like keeping a running tally of yards gained. I could do that Saturday morning.
  Wayne was beginning to shiver around halftime. He said, “I wish I had brought a blanket.”
  “I’ve got one,” I said, and handed him my Gentry blanket. He said it saved him.
  When the game ended, we began our long walk to the truck.
  Outside the stadium, I started to step on a sidewalk, and somehow I stepped on the poncho and the ungrateful thing that saved me threw me flat on the concrete.
  I was so cold, I didn’t care if anybody saw me. I stood up, but I couldn’t find the face hole in the poncho. Finally, I found it and I could see again.
  Before I fell, I noticed the ambulance coming up the road. When I fell, the driver stopped, just to make sure I wasn’t injured and/or dead.
  I waved my appreciation and moved on to the truck.
  No, I wasn’t hurt. I had on so many clothes, you could have thrown me off the White Cliffs of Dover and I wouldn’t have been hurt.
  Like, I said, my pride wasn’t hurt,  because I was too cold.
  When Wayne arrived, we threw all our wet items into the back seat of the truck.
  Dwight Gilliland had asked Wayne to text him the final score of the games, but Wayne’s hands were shaking so much, he couldn’t do it.
  Like that state championship game 55 or so years, when the heat in the truck began to work, it was heaven.
  When I got home, I threw my wet coats, poncho and blanket in the floor just inside the door. Like Scarlet O’Hara, I’d worry about them tomorrow.
  When I got to my bedroom, I removed several more layers, and then lay down for a long winter’s nap.
  Saluda will play at Southside Christian next year, but it will be in warm September.....

BROUGHT BACK

  Playing Southside Christian  brought back memories of my announcing duties when the two teams met earlier this year.
  The roster reminded me of the Chapin rosters of the past with names like, Kimmelman, Hertzberg, Alicondo, Kissenbirth, Paciocco, Zivitski, Hijuelos, and Destefano.
  I always said Chapin’s’ roster looked like something from the United Nations, and not a little town in South Carolina. Southside was the same.
  The names are fine just printed in the program, but what if you had to announce them? It never fails, the hardest name to announce is always going to be a captain. Southside Christian’s kicker was Paciocco, and I probably announced it several different ways.
  Before the press box was put up on the home side in 1985, we had to announce the games from the visitor’s side press box, and I dreaded when Chapin came to town.
  I’ll never forget the night, I pronounced a players named Meetze, as “Meets.”
  Mr. Meets’ mother was sitting three rows below the press box, stood up, turned toward me and said, “It’s pronounced Metts!”
  Well, excuse me, but I learned that night how to pronounce Meetze, forever, and I was so glad when we got to move to the home side!

  GREAT JOB, TIGERS

  I have certainly enjoyed covering the Saluda Tigers these last four years.
  The Tiger have gone 42-12 during that time, made four trips to the third round of the play-offs, and three trips to the upperstate championship game.
    To appreciate this playoff performance, you have to know Saluda went 22 years between play-offs appearances, 1973-1995, at one stretch, and 24-years between conference championships, 1973-1997. During those times, a break even season was rare.
  The last four Tiger teams have not only been winners, but they have produced many team and individual records.
  The four team have scored: 2015 - 429 points; 2016 - 563; 2017 - 387; and 2018 - 405. Those are the four highest season scoring marks in school history. Saluda has averaged 33 points a game the last four years.
  These teams have been fun to watch.
  Coach Stewart Young and his staff have done an excellent job of rebuilding each year.
  While the Tigers return some record breaking offensive starters, including receivers who can fly, and  the quarterback to throw to them, almost the entire defense will have to replaced.
  I’m sure the Tigers will be up to the challenge.

NOT TOO BAD

  I was pleasantly pleased with Carolina’s performance against Clemson Saturday night.
 Not one Gamecock fan, alive or dead, thought Carolina had a chance against the more talented Tigers.
  The fact they gained 600 yards in offense against the second ranked defense in America is promising. So, is the fact Jake Bentley broke the school passing record and shed his “choke in big games” tag. Jake had never passed for 400 yards in a game, yet he passed for 500 against Clemson.
 The fact that Clemson gained more yards against Carolina that any opponent in history was not surprising. Because of all the injuries, the Gamecocks were forced to start many second and third teamers. Truth be known, however, the defense wasn’t very good before all the injuries.
  Clemson should coast to the “Final Four.” The concern Clemson should have is the Tigers will be going up against teams with passing quarterbacks better than Jake Bentley, and the teams in the finals all have good defenses ... unless Oklahoma makes it.