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New Class A playoff system concerns Lincoln County Red Devils

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LINCOLNTON, Ga. — It’s been 39 years since Lincoln County failed to reach the football postseason, but Larry Campbell wasn’t counting.

“Phew, I couldn’t tell you,” Campbell said when asked about the last time his team didn’t advance. “But this is the first time we’ve had that fear. Now that it’s in somebody else’s hands and not in Lincoln County’s hands. That’s scary.”

The cause for rare concern in Lincolnton is the new split playoff system devised exclusively for Class A after the Georgia High School Association separated the public and private schools in the playoffs to avoid a mass walkout by disgruntled public schools.

That means only 16 public and 16 private schools will qualify for the postseason, and only the eight region champions are guaranteed a playoff spot regardless of classification. The remaining “wild cards” in each bracket will be seeded entirely based on a complicated mathematical power poll.

“This thing that scares me to death is this poll,” Campbell said. “The only team that’s guaranteed a playoff spot is the region winner. After that a power poll that nobody understands yet will decide who goes. There’s going to be some Class A schools having a fit when they don’t make the top 16.”

What disappoints Campbell the most is that the poll system was adopted several months after the schools had to submit schedules April 1. Lincoln County originally had a contract to play Class AAAAA Greenbrier but honored the Columbia County school’s request to back out.

That decision already cost the Red Devils eight guaranteed points (regardless of outcome) in the poll for playing a team four classifications higher.

“We would not have done that if he knew about the power poll,” Campbell said.

Instead, the Red Devils will be seeking an automatic spot with a 33rd region title since 1974 with quarterbacks who’ve never taken a snap and inexperienced lines on both sides of the ball.

“I think we’re going to be alright,” he said. “Our skill positions are pretty good. Our offensive and defensive lines got a ways to go.”

Lincoln County’s strength is running back, with Mike McIntire heading a four-man corps that includes Dayshawn Taylor, Jamar Norman and Quadarious Hunter.

All three receivers are also proven, led by talented Zireycus Letman returning to full strength from a torn ACL last year.

But getting the ball to them will be a challenge with junior quarterback Ben Turner and sophomore Lakeith Lockhart trying to solidify the job. Of even greater concern are fronts that lost three scholarship players from last year and returns only junior Andy Ray Wengrow.

The Red Devils return punter Max Ashmore and placekicker James Spratlin.

While Lincoln County won’t have to worry about being eliminated from the postseason for the third consecutive season by a private school, the revamped Region 7-A schedule includes newcomer First Presbyterian which Campbell described as “Macon’s Savannah Christian.”

“I couldn’t name who’s going to go from our region because there’s so many good football teams,” he said. “Wilkinson County returns 10 on each side. Aquinas has two of the best running backs in the area. … It’s going to be tough.”

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wildman 08/27/12 - 04:52 am

Larry Campbell/Lincoln County, please stop whinning. You are loaded every year, you will win the title and make the playoffs. Please just stop!

garyg 08/27/12 - 09:33 am
Lincoln County

I agree with you wildman,Larry Campbell needs to go hide under a rock all he do is run and hide from competition now.i'm from augusta and i never heard any team coach complain about who they play.even the late great luther welsh didn't run from tougher teams he just took his lumd and bruises and roll on even when he had a bad year. larry campbell is only concern with his winning hell half of his wins come from week programs of other schools why want he jump on the wagon and play the washington county thomson bulldogs and the burke county bears now.

CoastalDawg 08/27/12 - 12:54 pm
He who complains loudest . . .

Coach Campbell didn't want his team to play against the top private school team in the state; there IS a point to his complaint but to BE the best you have to BEAT the best. He initially led a coalition of public schools that were going to form their own association outside the realm of the Georgia High School Association but got his way when GA HS decided to split the playoffs into teams from public schools and teams from private schools playing separately. NOW it has come home already to bite him in the butt and he's howling again. Play the game, put your players to the test (a test which they pass more often than they fail). NOW GA will have TWO state champions ? How odd! Well Coach, you got what you wanted so now what?

Scott Michaux
Scott Michaux 08/28/12 - 05:00 pm
Clarification CoastalDawg

Larry Campbell did NOT lead, as CoastalDawg writes, "a coalition of public schools that were going to form their own association outside the realm of the Georgia High School Association but got his way when GA HS decided to split the playoffs into teams from public schools and teams from private schools playing separately."

Campbell and Lincoln County did not plan to defect with other Class A public schools considering the move. He attended their meetings but spoke against the concept. Lincoln County intended to stay in the GHSA and petitioned to join mostly Athens-area private schools in Region 8 if in fact many of the other schools in Region 7 had chosen to break away.

Campbell did not want split playoffs but wanted to compromise to find a way to make the private and public schools more equitably matched in Class A and AA. His favored concept was the formerly utilized 1.5 multiplier system.

Wolve790 08/29/12 - 08:56 pm

Not to pour on to sour grapes here, but Lincoln County has already been put out the last three times by Savannah Christian. Twice in Lincoln and then last year in Savannah. Just making sure you have your facts straight.

leverett1 09/24/12 - 08:37 pm
LC dominates the CSRA

For as long as I can remember, LC has dominated the Greater Augusta area. Didn't matter what classification you fell into, if you played LC, you lost! Until Burke County won state last year, I can't remember another Augusta area team winning a state title. Coach Campbell and LC is really the only known football program in this area. Larry Campbell: 461-80-3 with 11 state championships. He has enough championships to give all of the Augusta highschools one a piece. Simply put, he's a living legend!!!

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