Last season, Salem hoped a close Week 1 win against Ann Arbor Huron would be a sign the fledgling football program was about to turn a page. The Rocks, however, failed to capitalize on its momentum, struggling through an injury-plagued season en route to a disappointing 3-6 record.
After Friday's 41-17 win over the River Rats in a Week 1 rematch of last 2011's season-opening matchup, Rocks coach Kurt Britnell feels his team is better poised to have the kind of breakout year that has eluded Salem, which shares a campus with football powerhouses Canton and Plymouth.
"This year, we're expected to make that next step," Britnell said after his team's win. "Last year, injuries kind of bit us in the butt a little bit. This year, we're healthy. Overall, things are looking better."
Helping the Rocks this year is junior running back Drake Jordan, whose four touchdowns helped Salem coast to a big season debut. Jordan scored early on a 53-yard run and 71-yard reception in the first half, then added points with runs from 13 and 91 yards in the second half as the Rocks put the game out of the River Rats' reach.
While it didn't show in his game, Jordan said he was a little nervous headed into Friday's matchup.
"This was my first varsity game," Jordan said. "I was a little nervous, to tell you the truth, but these guys with their speeches got me really pumped up and I knew if we trusted in each other, then we'd be all right."
Despite his massive outing, Jordan deflected the attention to his Rocks teammates.
"I was running behind my linemen, I couldn't get it done without them," Jordan said. "It's all about winning. The new Salem."
The "new Salem" team (1-0) will hit the road next Thursday, where it will face Walled Lake Northern.
Plymouth 42, Lansing Sexton 12
The Wildcats stormed out of the gates with 35 first-half points, the report said, and ran the clock through the second half.
Plymouth's running game led the charge, accounting for 217 of the team's 239 total yards of offense, the report said.
Plymouth (1-0) is home next Thursday against Milford.
Midland 29, Canton 28 (OT)
A long road trip didn't deter the Midland Chemics on Thursday, who edged the Canton Chiefs, 29-28 in overtime on a game-winning two-point converstion from quarterback Alex Johnson to wide receiver Jake Singer, according to MLive.
The Chemics had traveled two hours by bus to face the Chiefs, the report said, but posed a threat throughout the first three quarters, including a 14-point edge late in the third.
A late Chiefs rally, however, sent the game to overtime when Canton missed a chance to win on an apparent botched field goal snap, the report said.
The Chiefs are back in action next Thursday at home against Brighton.