The Dooly County Bobcats ended the run last year. Lincoln County hopes they’re just the start this time.
For the second year in a row, Dooly County will visit Lincoln County in the Class A public state playoffs. But after playing in the 2012 semifinals, the two meet in Lincolnton in the first round as the seventh-seeded Red Devils play the 10th-seeded Bobcats at 7 p.m.on Friday.
In 2012’s 10-7 semifinal win, Bobcats star Montravius Adams toyed with the Lincoln County front and Dooly County blocked a field goal and returned it for a touchdown on the last play of the first half. The Red Devils also lost a fumble and turned the ball over on downs deep in Dooly County territory. Lincoln County did score on a mishandled Bobcats punt, but the offense stalled late.
Adams has since moved on to Auburn, where he’s made 18 total tackles and has a sack as a freshman on a 10-1 Tigers team.
This season, Dooly County (7-3) lost to a Class AA and AAAA school to begin the year before it won seven of eight. The Bobcats’ only loss in that stretch, a 27-25 defeat to Marion County, cost them a region title.
Also 7-3, Lincoln County has reached at least the quarterfinals every year since 2002. This season, it has done well since losing to Aquinas, winning four in a row by a combined score of 159-48. Running back Mike McIntire has been busy piling up yards, rushing for 1,527 yards this season despite injuries to players such as lineman Andy Ray Wengrow.
Red Devils coach Larry Campbell seemed almost awed by McIntire.
“There ain’t enough words,” Campbell said. “He didn’t miss any practice sessions. He’s just an outstanding man on and off the field.”
McIntire and the rest of the Lincoln County offense won’t have to deal with the 6-4 Adams this season, but Dooly County’s own offense is fast itself, including receiver Cortney Clark and running back Chanin Hamilton. The Red Devils must also try to contain quarterback Kereon Merrell, who starred as a defensive back a season ago.
At the same time, Dooly County has to return to Lincolnton and win there two years in a row.
“We know we got our hands full,” Bobcats coach Jimmy Hughes said. “We have a lot of respect for his program. It’s a great place to play high school football.”