This Friday the Red Devils will travel to Macon to play at Stratford Academy for the first time. The Eagles are 2-1 with the sole loss coming to strong Landmark Christian. Stratford is located near First Presbyterian, where recently the Devils played their first games in Macon since 1976. It seems like only yesterday that the Devils loaded up the chartered bus to head to Macon to take on Mount de Sales in a game many thought would decide the 1976 Region 4-B championship...
40 Years Ago - 1976 Class B State Champions
The Red Devils were coming off two good seasons: 9-4 in 1974 with a heart-wrenching 7-0 loss in the finals at Trion, and a 9-3 1975 campaign that ended in a semi-final loss to Cornbread-led Lyons in Lincolnton. Larry Campbell began his fifth season as the Devil head coach with only two returning starters on offense and two on defense.
Buddy Bufford Field got a makeover with a new main entrance, new parking, gym renovations, and new field lights. The Devils started the season with four straight wins by a total of 126-15. Coach Campbell had a headache on the bus on the way to Wrens, and the rainy night made the game more of a worry. But Lincoln County defeated the Colts 28-6, and held off Louisville the following week 22-6.
Lightning-fast Roy Norman and moose Tim Partridge led the rushing attack. David Edwards, who would later become a college professor, called the signals. Jesse Mason and Travis Jones led both the receiver corps and the defensive backs. And the "no-name" defense was super.
But then came the trip to Macon to play Mount de Sales, the 1973 Class B state champion. The Cavaliers may have been in the playoffs in 1974 and 1975 had they not been in the region with Mary Persons, coached by LC native Dan Pitts. Only the region champion advanced to the 3-round state playoffs. The Devils left Macon with a 15-0 win.
The Devils rolled over Wadley, GMC, and Monticello to end the regular season a perfect 10-0 for the first time since 1963. Norman and Partridge both rushed for over a thousand yards each during the regular season.
Lincoln County then hit the road for the playoffs. A stormy night in Folkston saw the Devils shut down Charlton County 36-0. The next week, a cold night in Montezuma ended with a 37-0 win over Macon County. The Devils had the best defense in the state, having allowed only 33 points in 12 games.
But that mattered little if the Devils could not defeat Buford on the road. The mud deepened as the rain poured all day. The Devil Defense made a goal-line stand in the first half, stopping the Wolves on three runs before Jones knocked the pigskin away in the endzone on fourth down. "I believe that was the turning point of the game. It was then that the defense realized they couldn't score on us," Campbell said after the game.
The Devils took the second half kickoff with Norman running for 20 and 13 yards on consecutive plays. The Devils attempted a reverse and Norman broke through for 39 yards to the Buford 2. Two plays later he scored from the one for what would be the winning touchdown. The Devil secondary and a strong pass rush kept the Wolves' passing attack in check. The Devils claimed their fourth state championship and a 13-0 perfect record.
Folks in Lincolnton didn't get much sleep that night, as the town's fire engine met the team bus at the city limits and with lights blazing led the state champs to the school. With eight shutouts, including all three playoff games, the team was named to the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. Norman was Back of the Year, and Campbell was Coach of the Year.
The Devils' "tradition of excellence" continues in 2016 ...