Loss may put Devils on road

Chris Thelen/Staff
Larry Campbell: Lincoln County coach's team may have to defend Class A title away from home throughout the playoffs.

Lincoln County faces the legitimate possibility of being a No. 3 seed in the Georgia High School Association Class A state playoffs this year.


A likely Twiggs County victory at Wilkinson County on Friday creates a situation where the Red Devils would be on the road every week defending the Class A state title they've won the past two years.

That would be unusual during Larry Campbell's 36-year run as Lincoln County's coach. There have been only seven years when his team didn't win or share the region title in that span. The Georgia High School Football Historians Association Web site tracks just two seasons where the Red Devils were on the road for every one of their state playoff games.

The Red Devils fell in the state final in 1974, but won the state championship in 1976.

Campbell took a road warrior attitude toward the likely playoff trek ahead for his team.

"All we've likely done is lost home-field advantage," Campbell said. "You've got to beat all the tough teams to win the state title anyway. This way we just get to play the really tough teams a little earlier and on the road, too. We've still got to beat the best teams in the state to win it all. It will be much more difficult on the road, but that's the penalty we pay for losing to Twiggs County."

The Red Devils (8-1) would still be a region co-champion should both Twiggs and Warren County win on Friday. The region tiebreaker rules would drop them to the third seed.

"I think we may grow from this," Campbell said. "I don't think this team would have ever made it to 15-0 the way we were going. I truly think this will make us a better team. We've got good fans. They don't mind traveling to watch us play. If that's the way it turns out, we'll take our game on the road to see what we can do."

RUNAWAY TIGER: Swainsboro tackle Derrick Shuemake may be having the most impressive season of any defender in the area.

The 6-foot-3, 290-pound senior has 16 sacks and 12 tackles for losses in nine games. He had five sacks against Warren County.

"We told him last year if he wanted to be a Division I-A player the way to show it is to dominate every high school game he plays in," Swainsboro coach Shane Williamson said. "He goes out every Friday trying to do that and that's what he's done so far."

Shuemake has 75 total tackles. He's approaching the school record of 20 sacks held by Jonathan Moses , who needed 15 games in 2000 to compile that number. He was part of a tenacious defense that led the Tigers to a Class AAA state title.

MARLBORO MEN: Strom Thurmond coach Lee Sawyer said his team "will face as hostile an environment as they've ever seen" Friday at Marlboro County. Strom Thurmond (7-4) is on the road in the second round of the South Carolina High School League Class AAA playoffs.

The Rebels meet a Marlboro County (9-2) team that's only lost to two North Carolina teams.

"If we can play well it will be a game where both teams have a throwdown until the very end," Sawyer said.

Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or jeff.sentell@augustachronicle.com.