It is hard to believe it's been 10 years since the "free kick", Brandon, Rontae, and others highlighted the 2006 Class A state title season. Join us as we go back 10 years ...
The Red Devils were riding high. The nucleus from their 2005 Class A State Champion team were returning. That team had made the biggest turnaround in history after starting with three losses, then upsetting W-W in Washington 20-13 after picking picked to lose by 27. The season ended with "THE Game" at Buddy Bufford Field - a 25-0 Devil state title win over W-W before 7,000 fans.
The first two games were easy wins, 33-0 over McCormick and 35-14 over Harlem. Then W-W came visiting and left with a stunning 3-0 victory. The Devils lost several turnovers and made mistakes. The field goal came with 5:13 left in the game after the Devils mishandled a punt attempt.
After that, the Devils made sure they took care of business. A 55-0 win over Aquinas and a 42-0 win over Monticello both came on the road. THe Rose Bowl game was highlighted by big plays: a 76-yard punt return by Rontae Norman, an 86-yard run by Brandon Barden, and a 79-yard run by Darell Norman.
The Devils rolled through middle Georgia with wins over Hancock Central, Wilkinson County, Warren County, and Twiggs County. A 32-0 win over GMC on November 10 was Larry Campbell's 300 regular season win.
The playoffs saw the Devils facing a who's who of Class A football. A 53-8 win over Trion started things. A 34-0 win over Eagle's Landing Christian was Campbell's 400th overall win and 100th playoff victory.
Hawkinsville came to Lincolnton December 1 in a rematch of the infamous 2003 state title game. The highlight of the 31-7 LC win came when the Devils fair caught a short Hawkinsville punt. Campbell had his team line up for a "free kick", and always dependable Vance Tarver kicked a field goal from a tee for three points. Most of the attendees had no clue what just happened. One of the referees said he had not seen that done in his 28 years of officiating. (The Red Devils would be successful on another free kick in a later season.)
The Devils faced Commerce in the Dome in the semifinals, and came away with a 21-3 victory. That setup another playoff showdown with Clinch County, which had won 12 straight since two opening losses to larger teams. Clinch and Hawkinsville had been the 2004 Class A Co-Champs. The Devils won 21-14 when Clinch jumped offsides and allowed the Devils to run out the clock for the final seconds.
The Devils finished 14-1 and outscored opponents 489-62. The 2006 Class A state title was the 14th for the Red Devils and the 11th for Coach Larry Campbell.
The Devils' "tradition of excellence" continues in 2016 ...