Most folks, outside of the Red Devil fan nation, say that Lincoln County is an underdog to Savannah Christian this week in the quarterfinals.
Considering that the Raiders have booted our Devils from the playoffs the past two seasons, and both of those games were at Buddy Bufford Field, and the Savannah private school is ranked #1, and no team has challenged the Raiders this year, Lincoln County should be the underdog. One computer analysis has Savannah Christian as 2-point favorites.
Of course, those same computer rankings had Wilcox County as a considerable favorite over Aquinas last week. Good luck to the Irish in their game against Landmark Christian this Friday.
Being considered an underdog has never slowed down our Devils. In fact, at least the fans and some coaches would prefer not being the favorite to win a game. It's just one more bit of incentive for everyone.
Being the underdog is nothing new. After Buford upset Hogansville in the 1976 semifinals to host our Devils, Buford was favored to win. Larry Campbell got his first state title that cold, rainy night, 6-0.
In 1992, Burke County's Bears rolled into Lincolnton as one of the top rated teams in all of Georgia. Few gave our Devils a chance of staying on the field with the big bad Bears. Burke didn't know what hit them, as we jumped out to a big first quarter lead enroute to a 42-0 trouncing.
Macon County was ranked number 1 when its Bulldogs came to Lincolnton for the 1995 state title game. Lincoln County scored 12 points on a defense that allowed only 33 during regular season; LC won 12-0.
In 2008, one year after beating our Devils 34-24, Wilcox County came to Lincolnton as the second ranked team. Our Devils won 27-12 despite the Patriots' great quarterback.
Earlier this year, the Devils traveled to Abbeville to take on the defending South Carolina Class A champion Panthers, who had beaten our Devils three straight times. Our Devils won 24-13. The Panthers have not loss since, and play this Friday for another state crown.
The best upsets seem to happen when you have to play on the other team's turf. One great example was the "Thriller in Miller" in 1997, when our Devils "shocked the world" with a 14-12 win over Miller County in Colquitt. The Pirates were 12-0 and were averaging over 50 points per game. Their star player, Charles Grant of future UGA and NFL fame, needed one touchdown to get a new state record. He didn't get it.
And then there are more factors that can make an upset even sweeter. Arguably, the best upset came on October 14, 2005, in Tiger Stadium just up 378 in Washington. The Tigers were ranked #4 in Class A, and our Devils had lost their first 3 games of the year. One newspaper picked Washington-Wilkes to win by 27. The Devils trailed 10-6 at the half, but two TD runs and a late interception sealed the unbelievable win 20-13. The shocking victory setup a rematch in the state finals in Lincolnton, which our Devils won 25-0.
The bottomline is that the teams still have to play the game, regardless of what the pollsters or prognosticators say. The game this Friday night in Garden City Stadium looks to be an outstanding contest between two good teams. In fact, it's the only playoff game in any class this week that features two undefeated teams.