Preview: State Title Game in Hawkinsville

December 19, 2003

Red Devils vs. Red Devils, L. Campbell vs. L. Campbell, 14-0 vs. 14-0

It doesn't seem quite right, does it? Two hot Red Devil teams should be playing somewhere warm (ok, not THAT steamy!). Hawkinsville is forecasted to be cold Saturday evening when these two fine teams tee up the pigskin for the Class A Championship.

Here's our latest information:

The temperature at the 6 PM kickoff is expected to be 41 with a windchill of 37. By 8 PM it will drop to 33 but feel like 30 thanks to a 3 MPH wind from the northwest. The wind will be stronger during the afternoon, but should drop throughout the day. Our recommendation: wear lots of red clothes. (It will be colder in Lincolnton Saturday night, and NO, we don't prefer playing the finals in the Dome!)

Andy Hill, a Hawkinsville druggist and the voice of those other Red Devils, has posted a well-written preview of the Big Game on his Saturday Morning Quarterback website. As he concludes, while one team may get the title trophy, both teams are really winners. We heartily agree!!

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has posted their preview of the Class A Title Tilt.

Hawkinsville, after their Dome whipping of Clinch County and with their strong offense and talent-laden defense, appears to be the heavy favorite going into the final game of 2003. So? Lincoln County prefers to be the underdog, as our Red Devils love to "overachieve," at least as outsiders consider it.

For this Saturday's Class A Football Championship Game between homestanding Hawkinsville and visiting Lincoln County, the similarities are as remarkable as the differences between the two teams and schools.

TWO L. CAMPBELL-COACHED RED DEVIL TEAMS

Only 7 GHSA football teams use Red Devils as their mascots, and two of those meet this Saturday for the title. Both teams are 14-0, and lost to Clinch County in the 2002 playoffs. But now the really strange stuff. Both teams are coached by a man named Campbell. Both men have the first initial "L". Both were initially hired as baseball coaches. Both have lived in South Carolina for a part of their life. And both have had great success at their current high school. Hawkinsville's Lee Campbell is 49-13 in his 5 years at the middle Georgia school, better than Larry Campbell's 42-15-1 in his first 5 years. Of course, Legendary Larry picked up the pace a bit after that, winning his next 25 games. (And to add to the strange facts list, Hawkinsville's big back last year was named Elijah Clark -- sound familiar? -- And one more thing: State Farm is the GHSA Title sponsor - their agent in each town has named Newman (Doug in LC), and both are involved with the football program (radio, photographer).

DIFFERENCES MORE CRITICAL TO GAME OUTCOME

This season, Hawkinsville is loaded with healthy talent. Defensive end Charles Johnson (#42) is the #1 recruit in the state this year and has already committed to UGA. Some say he may start as a freshman with his outstanding size (6-3, 240) and speed (4.6 40). He must be kept away from LC QB Travis Clark for the visiting Devils to have a chance. Sir Charles, as the H'ville folks refer to him, also has a 6-yard per carry average with 195 yards and 6 TDs this season.

But Johnson may not be the best athlete on his team. Teammate Brandon Perry, a junior, is expected to be the top prospect NEXT YEAR. He is 6-3, 270 pounds, plays basketball, and can do a standing back-flip. Yes, he's agile.

Meanwhile, as you know, Lincoln County has no Division I prospects to begin with, and has experienced their worse injuries ever. Their two best tailbacks will be walking the sidelines, and other key players are also out.

So, does Lincoln County stand a chance against this overpowering group of well-coached athletes? Yes. LC Coach Campbell is comparing this game to the now legendary "Thriller in Miller" in 1997, when no one outside Lincoln County gave our Devils a chance of even staying on the field with Charles Grant and the Pirate scoring machine. Miller had averaged over 50 points per game, but LC stopped them with only 12 for a 14-12 shocker. Our Devils will need that kind of effort again this Saturday.

That points us to one major difference in Lincoln County's favor -- coaching experience in the playoffs. The LC coaching staff has been together for a long time, and has prepared for several state title games. This will be Larry Campbell's 16th state final, and the 20th for our Devils. Hawkinsville's last title was in 1959. Saturday will be Lee Campbell's 13th playoff game (8-4), and Larry Campbell's 111th (90-20).

But as they proved so very well last Friday morning in the waning minutes of the Trion game, these Devils NEVER EVER give up. This team has heart, character, and all the other qualities that make champions.

Hawkinsville information links:



Hawkinsville beat Clinch County 25-7 Saturday morning in the second semifinal game, getting revenge for their 36-0 loss to the Panthers in the same situation last year.

In the other classes, Buford will be looking for its 45th straight win and 3rd consecutive title when it plays Charlton County (12-2) in the AA final. With Clinch County's defeat, Buford is the only 2002 Football Champ that can repeat in 2003. Charlton's two losses were to Camden County and Valdosta, who will meet for the AAAAA final. Peach County and LaGrange will fight it out in AAA, while Statesboro will return to Atlanta to play Marist Friday night on GPTV for the AAAA title.

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