The Lincoln County football team hasn’t played in the state championship game since 2006, which would be a recent trip for most.
But it’s actually the Red Devils’ longest wait between championship appearances while under the direction of coach Larry Campbell.
Though this year saw public and private schools compete in separate 16-team playoffs, the Red Devils are close to reaching the last game again despite fielding a young team.
Lincoln County will play host to Dooly County at 7:30 p.m. Friday for a spot in the Class A public state championship game.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever had a football team I am as proud of as this one,” Campbell said. “I’ve never had a team improve from game 1 to 14 as much as this team has. They’re a great bunch to work with.”
The Red Devils’ youth includes those who are major contributors. Of the four players who accounted for Lincoln County’s four touchdowns against Wilkinson County in the 28-22 quarterfinal win, Zireycus Letman is the only senior. And Jamar Norman, whose punt return gave the Red Devils the lead for good, is only a sophomore. The win against Wilkinson County also ended a string of three consecutive years without semifinal showings.
Now Lincoln County must beat Dooly County. The Bobcats are 10-2 and feature star player Montravius Adams, a defensive lineman who’s a five-star prospect.
But Campbell, who has coached the Red Devils to 11 state championships since he took over in 1972, has the homefield edge as the No. 1 seed.
His young bunch has a sophomore-dominated offensive line that has improved, and first-year starting quarterback Ben Turner has worked with receivers Letman and Jalen Franklin to make the passing attack dangerous. That’s opened up lanes for running back Mike McIntire.
If Lincoln County can have that balance again, the Red Devils might be on their way to the Georgia Dome for the state championship.
“It would be an unbelievable accomplishment with as many young players as we got,” Campbell said.