In Lincolnton, the townspeople will have their turkey and dressing like most families do for the Thanksgiving holiday. Many will go out hunting early Friday morning - some for deer and some for bargains. But in Lincolnton, Thanksgiving means something else almost every year -- RED DEVIL FOOTBALL.
Thursday will have 3 pro games, and Friday will have a college game or two. But Friday will also see the townsfolk hurry back from the woods or the stores, pack their SUVs, and head west toward 'Bama. They'll stop just shy and head north to the town of Bremen where our Red Devils will face some blue cousins in the second round of the playoffs. We don't need to explain what happens when our red-clothed fans see blue, be it on Devils or Tigers.
And speaking of Tigers (even though they aren't playing this late this year), it was that team from Washington that first met our Devils on Thanksgiving Day, November 30, 1922. Washington won that game at their field that day 13-6, and it took our Devils over 80 years to tie the series. Of course we note that Lincolnton and Washington didn't meet on the gridiron for 17 years on Thanksgiving or any other day because some thought the rivalry in 1922 was too intense. If they could have only been at The Bud in 2005!!
Sorry. Back to Thanksgiving. In 1925 on Turkey Day, our founding coach W. T. "Tut" Dunaway carried his squad to Augusta and whipped Boys Catholic High 19-0. Those Augusta lads didn't take too kindly to that, and loaded up their team with college players the next year and won 28-0 in a huge game played at the Academy of Richmond County's stadium, then the best for a hundred miles in any direction.
In 1944, Curry Colvin renewed the Washington-Lincolnton Thanksgiving Day afternoon tradition when he took his Devils to Tigertown. John Hawkins, who recently passed away, repeated the effort two years later. The GHSA playoffs, starting in the late 1940s, essentially ended the rivalry games played on Thanksgiving as the playoffs are underway then. Only once have the Devils played a playoff game on Thanksgiving: a 38-0 win in Lincolnton against Monticello in 1962.
And this year our Devils are hitting the road in the playoffs. If they win Friday in Bremen, they face a longer road trip next week, to either Rochelle to play Wilcox County or Colquitt to face Miller County. Devil fans know both of those teams, along with Bremen, have plenty of reason to want some revenge on our Devils. Those three teams have been the loser in 8 of Lincoln County's 111 playoff wins. Only legendary Valdosta has more postseason wins in Georgia -- just 2 ahead at 113.
Larry Campbell teams are 104-22-0 in playoff action, outscoring opponents nearly 3-to-1. Fourteen of those 22 losses came against the eventual state champion that year. And our Devils don't mind being "Road" Devils, winning 84% of their away games. In the playoffs alone, our Devils are 32-11 away from home, with 11 opponent shutouts.
Playoff wins account for over one fourth of all Devil wins during The Campbell Years. Coach is now third nationally in wins (all-time and active) with 413 against only 70 losses. Now I know personally that each one of those 70 losses hurt, but you will not find a single team in Georgia with fewer losses during the past 36 seasons. Or more wins at 413.
The numbers sneak up on you. We recall, unfortunately, the 6-6 mark in 2001. But consider that season is the only one in the last 10 that our Devils didn't reach at least the quarterfinals. And we may have that year had we made one more first down in the second half in Bowdon. Lincoln County's record is a remarkable testament to Larry Campbell, his great coaching staff that is rightfully considered the best in the Peach State, solid players year in and year out, and the most enthusiastic and die-hard fans and community support (as 2005 proved beyond a shadow of a doubt).
Red Devil fans have much to be thankful more. Now we ask just two more things -- a safe trip for all to Bremen, and another RED DEVIL victory!
[Click here for The Campbell Years]
[Click here for Georgia and National Coaching records]