Tidbits - January 30, 2020

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY



SUPER BOWLERS

  Trey Shealy had an interesting question: Is Deebo Samuel the first player from a Saluda opposing team to make it to the Super Bowl?
  Deebo, who is a rookie with the 49'ers, played against Saluda twice, in 2012 and 2013, when he played for Chapman. Chapman won both times, 55-47 and 28-24. Deebo scored a total of five touchdowns against the Tigers in his career. By the way, among the State Champions this year were Chapman in 3-A and Saluda in 2-A!
  I put the above couple of paragraphs on Facebook, hoping to get some answers.
  Jerry Pow was the first to answer, only his was about someone FROM Saluda, not an opponent.
  The late Max Runager was born when his father Geb was an assistant coach to Bettis Herlong at Saluda High. Like most of us “born is Saluda County,” we weren’t really born in Saluda County, because out county doesn’t have a hospital. Max’s obit says he was born in Greenwood, but he came home to Saluda County a few days later, like I, and all of my siblings, did. Many of you, too, I’d imagine. Max lived the first two years of his life in Saluda, then the family moved to Orangeburg where his father got the head basketball coach job at Orangeburg High School. A few years later he coached the Orangeburg football team to the State Championship. If you didn’t know, Geb Runager died last March at the age of 91.
  Max was a standout punter for Carolina, and went on to play 11 years in the NFL, including in the Super Bowl with 49’ers.
  Richard Coates was next, reminding me that Ira Hillary from Strom Thurmond played for the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl. Walter Scott, also from Strom Thurmond played for a winning Green Bay Packers team. Ira and Walter were inaugural members of Strom Thurmond’s Hall of Fame this year.
  Scott played for former Saluda coach Donnie Woolsey, when Donnie was the head coach of the Rebels. So, Saluda has a former coach who coached someone who played in the Super Bowl!
  Jim Grant recalled Saluda played in  preseason scrimmage or jamboree 1980 against Aiken, who had  William “The Refrigerator” Perry on the team. This was verified by several former players, who played against the Fridge. Perry, of course, was a star of the Chicago Bears Super Bowl champions.
  Others were mentioned, including Ed McDaniel of Batesburg-Leesville. Ed played for 11 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, but they never made the Super Bowl while he was there.
  I.M. Hipp from Chapin and Corey Miller from Pageland were suggested. Saluda has played Chapin many times, but I think I.M. graduated before the Chapin-Saluda series began in 1976.
  Saluda has played Pageland a couple of times, but not when Corey was a member of the team. Like the instance with William Perry, Saluda may have scrimmaged Chapin and Pageland when I.M. and Corey played.
  I remember when I was in high school we scrimmaged Chapin in basketball and Marty Woolbright scored 54 points!
  Donnie Shell of Whitmire, who just got inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, was also suggested as a possibility.
  Saluda didn’t play Whitmire in football when Donnie was a student there, but George Todd recalls playing against Donnie in basketball when George played for the Tigers. George and I were teammates, but he’s younger. I cannot remember every team we played against back in the day, so I may have played against Donnie, too!
  I’m sure there are some others.
  I’ll certainly be pulling for Deebo in the Super Bowl, since I’ve seen him play in person and even announced his name on the P.A. system! Well, his last name. In the program he was listed at Tysun Samuels. We didn’t know about the Deebo.
  By the way, Saluda Coach Stewart Young commented on Trey’s question. He said after the Tigers lost 28-24 to Chapman, he called Carolina assistant Coach G.A. Mangus and told him Deebo was the best player he had ever coached against, and there was no sense in Carolina not offering Samuel a scholarship.
  The next day Carolina offered.
  I told Stewart he should get a cut of Deebo’s Super Bowl check!

CURSE IS DEAD!

  I was listening to a sports’ talk show the other day, and the hosts were talking about the “Chicken Curse,” applying it to this year’s Gamecock basketball team, who can beat two top ten teams, but lose to a team ranked 331st.
  Then it hit me. Saluda’s Chicken Curse is dead! When you win a state championship, all curses are eradicated!
  For those who don’t know, Saluda’s Chicken Curse was imported from the University of South Carolina when stadium seats from Carolina Stadium were re-erected at Mathews Field.
  Half the stands were used for the visitors side in 1972, then the stands were complete for the 1973 season and the home side moved to its current location.
  Saluda went 11-0 until the Upperstate Championship at home, and Clinton won 14-13 on a blocked extra point by Roscoe Watson. The curse began at that moment.
  I detailed Saluda’s football struggles since 1973 not too long ago, and even though the Tigers had gone 42-12 the four years previous to this one, the seasons still ended with a loss in the playoffs, including three in the Upperstate Championship game.
  But this year, the Tigers went all the way. After 46 years, the Curse is dead in Saluda! It’s still alive and well in Columbia, unfortunately.

WHY IT’S GOOD
  I hear negative remarks about social media, but I love the way Facebook brings people together.,
  As many of you know, I have been posting stories on Facebook from old newspapers Motte Jean Yarbrough gave me.
  Last week, I posted a story on former Saluda football great Jonathan Brooks when he played for Clemson.
  Jonathon is a Facebook fried of mine. I tagged him in the story, and soon he and his former teammates started commenting.
  Dave Keller remembered how the 1973 Tigers wrote the score of the 1972 Irmo loss on their helmets to help them get up for the big contest, which the Tigers won.
  He wrote this: “Here is a Saluda football story some may find amusing. When I was moving from Seattle to California, I hired a guy on the internet to help me pack and load. We were chatting and he said his dad is from S.C., too. I asked where. "Irmo", he said. "When did he graduate?" "1973." I asked if he played football; the answer was "Yes". I showed him photos from SHS yearbooks, told him how Irmo had beaten us in '72 and, in '73, we played them with the previous year's score written on our helmets--and beat them! Small world, indeed.”
  Bobby Thompson remembered they wrote 42-6 on the helmets.
  Jonathon, who now lives in LA, also answered inquiries about this family from old friends.
  It was a cyber reunion that lasted for days!

SADNESS

  There has been so much sadness around here lately.
  In the last couple of weeks, people I knew, Tim Edwards, Ophelia Risinger, John Evans, Robin Hall Black, Rayford Miller, and Shelley Temples have died.
  I can relate stories and personal interactions with all of them. They were all good people and will be missed.
  Local funeral home director Richard Logan had to bury his sister Florence, who was returning home to Charlotte from his house and died in a car crash.
  Then Sunday, the news broke of the death in a helicopter crash of basketball legend, Kobe Bryant.
  When the story popped up on Facebook, I thought it was fake news. Then, we heard Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter was with him.
  I didn’t know Zeke Mason, but like many I visited his Facebook page after his death.
  One of his postings was celebrating the Saluda High state championship football team, and another was a long, touching tribute to Montez Adams, who died in his sleep.
  He told of what an influence Montez had been in his life, and a few weeks later, Zeke, only 27, also died in his sleep.
  We just don’t know when our time is coming, but we do know how sad it is when so many pass away.