The schedule says it’s the state playoffs, but in some ways it’s just region play with higher stakes – at least for one team.
After beating Hancock Central in the first round for its second win in three weeks against the Bulldogs, the Lincoln County football team has another rematch this week in the Class A public state playoffs. Tonight, Wilkinson County visits for a 7 p.m. quarterfinal game.
Lincoln County beat the Warriors 21-19 on Nov. 2, meaning by the end of Friday, the Red Devils will have played either Wilkinson County or Hancock Central four games in a row.
“All this comes out with the split between private and public schools,” Red Devils coach Larry Campbell said about having another rematch. “It’s just fate we play – and that gives us problems.”
With the separate playoffs for public and private schools in Class A, power ratings were used to fill out the brackets. Lincoln County got the top spot for the public playoffs. Also, four other Region 7-A teams qualified, with three of the region’s five playoff teams making the public bracket.
The ratings math – and Wilkinson County’s win against Miller County – equals Lincoln County (10-1) playing a region foe in the first two rounds.
In the opening round, the Red Devils blanked Hancock Central 21-0 to go with the 27-8 win in the regular-season finale.
But this Friday should be more difficult.
In that Nov. 2 meeting, Lincoln County trailed 13-0 before a big Jamar Norman kick return ignited the comeback. Led by 100-yard rusher Mike McIntire, the Red Devils rushed for more than 200 yards and held prolific Warriors quarterback David Whipple, a four-year starter, to 151 yards and no touchdowns.
Tonight, Lincoln County will look to its offensive line to keep Whipple and the Warriors’ offense off the field.
But Campbell recognizes the task of beating yet another team twice in one season.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge,” Campbell said. “To beat them a second time will be extremely difficult, but I would like to pull it off if we could.”