This Friday, Lincoln County's Red Devils will make the four-hour trek to Folkston to take on the tough Charlton County Indians in the first round of the 2014 GHSA Class A Public football playoffs.
The only blemish on the Indians' 9-1 record is a 41-14 loss to Irwin County in the game that decided the Region 2-A championship. Charlton scored first but Irwin then went on a 28-point run that put the game out of reach. Irwin's only loss was to Class AA powerhouse Fitzgerald. The only other contested game for Charlton was a 23-19 win over Clinch County on Halloween.
The Indians are 4-1 against playoff teams. Their average result over 10 games was 30-12 for an 18-point scoring differential. The Devils are 3-3 against playoff teams, with a season average of 24-6 (8-point differential).
The Indians were the state runner-up last season, falling 12-3 to Marion County. Charlton has been ranked as high as #2 this year. Charlton is also the two-time defending baseball champions.
The winner will play the winner of the Hawkinsville vs. Jenkins County game, where the Red Devils are a heavy favorite.
The Devils are 5-2 against Charlton County, including splitting two State Title games. Twice Lincoln County and Charlton County have met for three consecutive seasons: 1974-76 and 1990-92.
Their first meeting was 40 years ago, on November 27, 1974, with the Devils winning 29-7 in Folkston. That was the first playoff game for "Lincoln County", and the first for the Red Devils since their 1963 state title victory. It began the legendary post-season run of the Devils under Larry Campbell.
The two teams met the next two years for the sectional (quarterfinal) championship, with the Devils winning 13-0 at Buddy Bufford Field and 36-0 in a rain storm in Folkston. Some fans will remember that night as a fan bus broke down in Blackshear on the way home.
The two teams would not see each other again until the 1990 state championship game in The Swamp. The Devils managed a 6-0 victory. Prior to the game, Camden County was looking for a new coach and put up a banner welcoming Larry Campbell as their new coach. After a few words from Connie Campbell, that banner quickly disappeared. Camden eventually found itself a great coach, but lost him to a well-funded Class A private school last year.
The following year saw the Indians return to Lincolnton in the quarterfinals, where the Devils won 20-0. The next year Charlton finally got a win over the Red Devils. Again the pair were matched in the quarterfinals in Lincolnton, but Charlton jumped to a 14-0 halftime lead, and the Devils were only able to close to 14-6.
Charlton had one of its best seasons ever in 1999, with six Division I prospects starting. The Devils fell 20-0 at home in the finals.
The Indians spent several years in Class AA during the next decade, contesting the state title with the likes of Dublin and Buford.
To reach "The Swamp" where the Indians play, fans should head to Wrens and follow US 1 south. The 223-mile trip is estimated to take four hours without stops. Folkston is 34 miles south of Waycross, or a few miles north of Florida. The field is on the left, adjacent to the High School and the Hospital. From US 1, fans should turn left onto Indian Trail, then take the first right on 3rd Street. The stadium and parking will be on the left.
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