Excerpts from September 21, 2000 Edition of The Lincoln Journal
Okay. So Washington-Wilkes won the big game this year. The Tigers edged out the Red Devils by a score of 13-7 and took a two-game lead in the 78-year-old series. Maybe if this and if that, the game might have come out differently. But it didn't and Lincoln County ain't crying.
"I am very, very pleased with our kids," Head Coach Larry Campbell said after the game. "They gave a great effort. I thought it was a good football game and could have gone either way."
One thing is certain. As loaded as the Tigers are for 2000, now they know they have been in a ball game and it would be a safe bet to say they would refuse an offer to line up and play the same game again from scratch.
But as if the loss in itself wasn't enough, there was a price to be paid for the playing of the game." The one thing happened that we knew we couldn't afford to have happen," Campbell lamented. That thing was the injury to starting quarterback Andrew Smalley who suffered an AC separation in his right shoulder after taking a stout lick on a rollout pass play. Because Smalley has taken virtually every snap this year, there was not a replacement ready to step in and take over. "That was a coaching mistake and I take full responsibility," Campbell said.
Smalley will be held out of all contact and running for at least 10 days and then be reevaluated. Also on the injured list is senior receiver Casey Colvin who suffered a concussion on a nasty fall near the end of the game. Fortunately, the Red Devils have an open date this Friday and can take the extra week to try and get healed up.
"I told our kids before the game that if we could play with Washington, I felt we could play with just about anybody," Campbell said. "So I feel good if we can get everybody back healthy again," he added.
"Our game plan was to run, run, run the first half," Campbell explained. And that is what the Red Devils did almost exclusively with Norman and Freeman. However, as is not unusual with Lincoln County, there were surprises due after intermission - until Smalley got hurt. "We had put in some special plays for the second half and we were going to throw, throw, throw after halftime," Campbell said. "But we had to tear up the playsheet at halftime because Andrew couldn't possibly throw the football.
"Andrew is a graet athlete and he throws the football super well for us," the coach continued. "Our whole game plan revolved around him, and when he went down we became so disoriented that we didn't really give our kids a chance to win. That's the head coach's fault," he said of himself.
The age-old and unusually potent rivalry gave rise to some occurrences that ultimately distracted attention from the game itself.
"I apologize for being a little more excited than usual because of something that happened during the week," Campbell said. "I don't think it made the difference in winning or losing -- we got beat and we're big enough to accept that -- but I don't think there's any place for that in high school athletics."
There were some things [that] went on before and during this football game that have upset a lot of people. "That's not what the game is all about. If it is then we need to quit playing." Campbell said. "If it's going to get so ugly that people do these things at a high school football game -- if the rivalry has gotten that bitter -- then we may need to consider not playing the game at all unless we can get better control of it."
The coach did point out, however, that he thought players on both teams kept their cool quite well. He reported that he stepped onto the Washington-Wilkes busses after the game and "they were true sportsmen. That treated me with the utmost respect," he added.
Campbell also asked to clarify a statement made in The Augusta Chronicle. "I was misquoted," he said. "I didn't say there was a cheap shot taken on Andrew Smalley. I was explaining that, as of a meeting held on September 8, the toughest penalty in high school football is for roughing the quarterback. The rule is designed to eliminate the cheap shots and to protect the quarterbacks and I didn't think ours was protected. I never accused the defender of making a dirty play; he was doing his job in going after the quarterback," he explained.
Campbell estimated the attendance at last Friday's game at somewhere near 6,000 -- probably the largest crowd at a local ball game in a number of years.
Excerpts from September 21, 2000 Edition of The News-Reporter
The intense rivalry was billed as the game of the week, and it was that. Actually, it was the game of any week. It was high school football at its finest. With young athletes giving every ounce of their energy, strength, and skill in a cooperative effort to stave off defeat and secure a win. In the end, the Tigers clawed their way to a 13-7 nail-biting victory.
With stands constructed to seat about 3,000 fans, there appeared to be about as many more onlookers crowded behind each endzone, along an embankment, and standing wherever they could catch a glimpse of the action. It was indisputable testimony to the intensity of the rivalry probably unequaled anywhere in the state.