Originally created 12/25/05

Legend of the Fall

A few area coaches took some liberty with the name of the man who's been the head football coach at Lincoln County for 33 years.

Three coaches chopped off a surname in their nominations as to who did the best coaching job in this part of Georgia this year.

Larry Campbell became "Larry Legend."

That name works, too.

It's reserved for a man who's now won a state-best 389 football games at Lincoln County. It really works now after the way The Augusta Chronicle's All-Area Georgia Coach of the Year reinforced his legendary rsum this season.

In a rebuilding year with just three starters back from last season, his Red Devils started 0-3. It was the team's worst start since 1955, but the rebuilding chore became another masterpiece.

"The best part was hushing up all our doubters at the beginning of our year with a championship," Lincoln County senior Shawntavious Jennings said.

The Red Devils won 12 in a row to close the season, capped with Campbell's 10th state title.

"This team didn't have any quit in it," Campbell said. "We never dreamed it. Maybe our players did. But they knew something I didn't know back at 0-3."

The season was different for more than the recovery. There were the subtle ways Campbell led the team, compared to his teachings during his last title run in 1995. The 2005 Larry Campbell was more of what Bobby Bowden or Joe Paterno are to their college football programs.

He was more like a legendary chief executive. Campbell did more event planning and logistics work the week of the state championship game than day-to-day coaching.

"Our assistant coaches deserve every bit of the credit in the world for this," Campbell said. "I was just the glue that held it together. Our assistants did all the coaching. Our defensive coaches made the calls to hold us together against Washington-Wilkes in the first half of the state title game. I just sat back and watched."

Campbell wore a headset on the sidelines for the first time, to involve his assistant coaches more in play-calling and strategy more than ever before. The decision paid a dividend in the title game.

"Our offensive coaches made the coaching adjustments against Wilkes for the second half that helped us take the game over," Campbell said. "I didn't have a thing to do with the changes. I just called the plays off the plan our offensive coaches prepared."

It was a gesture to the notion his career is heading to its twilight. He's already retired. He'll be back next year, but soon, he'll likely stop splitting his time between working his farm and teaching the players.

"I'll be back next year, and then we would reevaluate things at the end of next season from there," Campbell said.

The collective influence of the coaching staff was much like the on-field performance of the team.

"This was a total football team and it stands out from all the other great years," Campbell said. "We've had great players like Garrison Hearst and DeWayne Simmons and Barney Bussey come through here. When they were here, we'd depend on two or three people to win the games for us. This team here you didn't know from one week to the next who was going to be the star. That's what has made this year so phenomenal. It's every man we've got on this team doing their little part from week-to-week."

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


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