Lincoln County will be inexperienced when the 2007 season starts this Friday against McCormick at Lincolnton's Buddy Bufford Field.
Two starters return on the offensive line and two on the defensive line. That means all the "hands" guys, and a large talented bunch it was last year, have graduated. The Red Devils sent a local record nine players to college gridirons this year.
So it is time to rebuild -- uh, reload (this is Lincoln County, right?).
Big (6'5") senior Ronell Ferguson and Tony Wells will anchor the defensive line, but linebackers and secondary will be all new. After having the best scoring defense in all classes in 2006, the 2007 version will have to learn quickly.
Daniel Morris and Garrett Matthews are the only returning offensive starters.
The Georgia Football Magazine, edited by Robert Naddra who spent a few years working for the Chronicle, writes that "[Coach Larry] Campbell is going to need a monster effort from whoever steps in at the running back positions in order to have a successful offense. However, Lincoln County is one of the nation's most successful programs, and the rebuilding process promises to be short."
The Devils list 18 seniors and 23 juniors on their roster, so these kids have seen some playing time with 30 games under the Devils' belt the last 2 seasons.
Austin Goldman is expected to be the starter at quarterback. The JV program has been strong for several years, with only a single loss in 2006. Those kids know how to win, and are expected to continue on the varsity squad. Look for running backs by the names of Ellis, Green, Hearst, and Middlebrooks to lead the charge this season.
The kicking game is in good hands (and toes) with standout Vance Tarver returning for his junior season.
The Georgia High School Football Magazine annual preseason edition also expressed concern over the many lost players: "Tradition rich Lincoln County has their work cut out for them this year if they are to figure in a run for another state championship. However, the Red Devils always seem to develop into a good football team as the year progresses. Do not count them out."
The GHSF Magazine selected both Ferguson and Wells to be on their pre-season Class A all-state defense. Our Devils placed eight in the GHSF Magazine poll, with Clinch County #1 and Wilcox County #2.