Lincoln County will be trying to recover from its first two-game regular season losing streak in 25 years when the Red Devils travel to Buford this Friday night to battle the top-ranked and undefeated Wolves.
In this week's The Lincoln Journal, Lincoln coach Larry Campbell said "Our football team is getting better each week and we're hanging in there together. … We're going through some bumps and bruises together but I think, when playoff time comes, we're going to be there. … And we're going to be in good shape because we played some good competition. We did have some positive things happen. We established our fullbacks for the first time. We've got Joseph Hearst back healthy again and he's beginning to pick our team up a little bit. And Rick Stokes is now ready as our number-two quarterback. .. Our kids will respond. We are not going to get run off the field by anybody. If we just stay together and pull together, sooner or later, we're going to get a break. .. We don't have anybody down or hanging their heads. ..We are going to do all we can to win the football game, but we're not going to put all our eggs in one basket in order to beat Buford at this time. We could see Commerce or Buford again."
Buford is led by star wide receiver P. K. Sam, who is apparently headed to Florida State next year. GHSF said "The Wolves should be back in the playoffs this fall with the return of seven offensive and eight defensive starters. A lack of size on the line and the recovery of TB Webb Aiken from knee surgery are concerns. But QB Travis Payne (1,420 yards passing/15 TDs) and standout flanker P. K. Sam return to spark the offense. The kicking game is a questionmark." The 6-0 Wolves barely survived their game last week at Bowdon, coming from behind to win 18-17.
Lincoln is 3-1 against Buford, winning the 1976 state title in the rain there 6-0. The Wolves lost in Lincolnton in the 1995 (14-0) semifinals and 1998 (30-6) regular season. Last year, the Wolves won 24-19 in their fine athletic facility as LC fell behind, then came back to lead in the 4th quarter before losing on a long pass. Of course, visitors find one little fault with the Buford stadium: all seating is on the home side.
While Lincoln's two losses have been by a total of 7 points, the mental toll on the Devils and their fans has been heavy. While this week's game means very little for the playoffs, the Devils need to get things back on the right track before hosting Region 7-A rival Athens Academy (4-0) next week. AA will have its hands full this Friday at Commerce, in another battle of Region 7-A and 8-A teams.