Lincoln County's Red Devils, Region 8 champions, will host the Wilkinson County Warriors this Friday at 7:30 in a second round playoff game in the Class A Division II tournament.
The Warriors, the Region 5 second-seeded team, are 7-4 after defeating Macon County 13-7 last Friday at their home field in Irwinton. Wilkinson County favors the rush to passing by about 4 to 1. Per game, the Warriors average 181 yards rushing and 58 yards passing. Wilkinson County High was a region opponent for the Devils for several years.
As LCHS begins its 2022 playoff journey, a look back at post-regular-season activity in the Century of Excellence begins before GHSA began coordinated playoffs in the late 1940s. Before then, schools that had great seasons would invite or challenge others to a game to determine who was best.
Since joining the GHSA in 1948, the Red Devils have made the playoffs in 53 of those 75 seasons. The Devils have claimed 14 football state championships. Local teams have also won GHSA state titles in Literary, Track, and Softball.
The Red Devils have won 129 playoff games out of 167 contests. In Lincolnton, the Devils are 89-17. Away from their home, the local boys are 40-21. The most frequent away location was the Georgia Dome where LCHS was 5-3 in semifinal games between 1997 and 2006.
Clinch County has been the Devils' most frequent playoff opponent. The two stalwarts of Class A have evenly split their 10 games. Charlton County and Commerce tied for second with eight playoff games with LCHS. The Devils are 5-3 against the Indians, and 7-1 against the Tigers. Lincoln could face Charlton for a ninth time next week, as the Indians host Dooly County this week in Folkston to earn a quarterfinal berth.
Clinch has been the most frequent playoff visitor to Buddy Bufford Field; the Devils have won four of their six visits, including the 2006 state championship game. The former Louisville High was second, with five region playoff visits between 1984 and 1992. The Eagles headed back down US 1 with a loss each time.
Legendary coach Larry Campbell's teams won 116 of 145 playoff games including 11 state title games. Thirty-six of those 116 wins were shutouts, while the Devils were only held scoreless four times.
Playing deep into the playoffs meant playing on some cold nights. Some of the coldest nights were in Model and Forsyth (Mary Persons) in 1979. Even Lincolnton can get cold, as sleet was coming down when Wilcox County visited for the 1989 semifinals.
The hottest playoff game may have been the 1990 state title game in Folkston, when temps were in the 80s. A sign proclaiming Coach Campbell as the next Camden County coach raised the temps of more than a few Lincoln County fans. That sign quickly disappeared.
Lincoln County's visit to Colquitt, over 270 miles from Lincolnton, goes in the books as the longest road trip at nearly five hours. Many would say that Miller County game is one of LC's biggest wins, as the Devil Defense held Charles Grant and the Pirates to only 12 points after they had been averaging more than 50 a game. Lincoln County "shocked the world" 14-12 in the "thriller in Miller" that night way down south.
The prime candidate for biggest playoff win has to be the 2005 state championship game in Lincolnton against arch-rival Washington-Wilkes. Over 7,000 fans watched as the Devils whipped the Tigers 25-0 to end a storybook 10-3 season. The victory tied the all-time series for the first time since 1922.
The wettest playoff games may have both been played in 1976. The quarterfinal game in Folkston and the state title game in Buford were both drenching events, but the home teams felt worse as the Devils won both by shutout. By the way, Lincoln County is 2-0 against Buford in the playoffs. Buford now plays in Class 7A and is considered one of the top teams in the country.
Two of the most memorable plays in post-season games both involve Hawkinsville, with one being much more enjoyable than the other. The 2003 state title game in Hawkinsville was marred by the officials mishandling a Hawkinsville request for a fourth time-out. Lincoln County tried to protest the game, but the GHSA denied the protest. A few months later the GHSA removed the ability to protest a football game. The more pleasing event came three years later when Hawkinsville came to Lincolnton in the quarterfinals. Larry Campbell proved to everyone, including some officials and broadcasters, his mastery of the rule book as he called for a free kick that resulted in a field goal. Hawkinsville tried again for a fourth time-out but the officials handled it better in Lincolnton. The Devils won that 2006 game 31-7.
For other Region 8-A Division II playoff teams, Washington-Wilkes defeated Mt. Zion and will travel to Ellaville to play Region 6 champ Schley County. Aquinas and Greene County lost their first round games.