Lincoln County rides a 6-game winning streak into their annual showdown with those Tigers from the western end of US 378. The Devils are ranked as high as #6 in the polls, but that doesn't mean anything. The only thing that means something is the outcome of this Friday's game at Buddy Bufford Field, the site of the next battle in The 378 War.
Let's face it - we don't like them and they don't like us. It's nothing personal -- it's a southern high school thing. ThoseTigers think they have a better football heritage. They certainly have a right to be proud with 556 wins all-time, which places them seventh all-time in Georgia and in the top 150 programs all-time nationally. What's wrong with that? Well, that little school from Lincolnton is higher on those lists with 607 wins, 4th in Georgia and around 62nd nationally -- and Lincolnton has not been playing on the gridiron as long as Washington. And don't mention state titles to the nice folks in TigerTown -- they have 4 to 12 for the Devils -- and Lincolnton beat the Tigers in two of their title years! Yes, we admit that W-W leads the series 31-28-6, but it took Lincolnton 27 years to win that first game against the Tigers. Since then (1949), our Devils lead 28-21-4.
This rivalry is regarded by many as one of the most intense and heated in the Peach State. There's several reasons for that. Of the top 10 ten schools on that Georgia all-time list, W-W and LC are the only two that regularly play each other. The two schools are the only high schools in small neighboring rural counties. There's not much else to do, so football is the big thing in both towns. Both communities expect to win, and losing is simply not acceptable to either. Before GHSA playoffs begin in the late 1940's, the Thanksgiving afternoon matchup between the Tigers and the Devils was as much a tradition as the Tech-Georgia clash. And of course the first game in 1922 ended in a tie -- how fitting!
Washington-Wilkes has evened their season record at 3-3-1 after opening 2004 with tough games against larger schools. Many expect the Tigers to go far in the playoffs, with the Tigers ranked in the Top 10 to start the season.
Nine starters returned on defense, led by George Gates (130 tackles last season). The college prospect loves to hit, according to second-year
head coachRussell Morgan. The Tigers have had to replace star QB Jamaal Binns. Running back Fabian Dye (9 TDs in 2003) and Brad Sandifer (200 yards receiving last year) return on offense. Jake Dyson is also a force to contend with on both offense and defense.
WHAT THIS GAME MEANS IN 2004: This game is much more than just a rivalry in 2004. The winner should win 7-A, which means their first two playoff games would be at home and the quarterfinal game would probably be at Portal or home to Twiggs County. The loser would finish second, which means their second round game would probably be at Athens Academy or Commerce, and their quarterfinal game would be at Hawkinsville. Needless to say, the chances of reaching the Dome are much much better if you're the 7-A champ. (This is based on the bracket at GASPORTS.COM, and we certainly don't want to overlook any teams, but projections are always fun to look at.)