Originally created 12/19/06

An amazing achievement



If you're lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart," legendary football coach Vince Lombardi said, "he's never going to come off the field second."

How easily that applies to another legendary football coach: Larry Campbell. He and his Lincoln County High School Red Devils did it again Saturday, winning a remarkable 14th state football championship for the school.

On fourth down and with 2:02 left in the game, Clinch County High School's defense gave the Devils an early Christmas present: They fell for quarterback Brandon Barden's hard count, jumping offside and effectively ending any chance of the Panthers' offense getting the ball back.

The win marked Campbell's astounding 403rd win as the Devils' coach - a state coaching record.

And consider Lincoln County's opponent, Clinch County. This school has spoiled Campbell's playoff hopes four times before - including an 11-9 heartbreaker for the 1991 championship, and a 26-6 thumping in the 2004 semifinals. Saturday was payback.

But the title win marks the latest of a long series of milestones in Campbell's coaching career.

He arrived in 1972 to coach a Lincoln County team that was riding what would become a nine-game losing streak. Campbell snapped that streak with a 27-10 win over Warren County High School - the school that had humiliated the Devils in a 35-6 loss the year before. In Campbell's first year, Lincoln County still limped to a 3-7 record.

That losing record would be his last.

Campbell became Lincoln County's football magician, pulling victory after victory out of his hat. In 1974, only his third year as coach, he took his team to the state title game, losing 7-0 to Trion High School. But in 1976 and 1977, he coached his teams to back-to-back state titles while delivering to fans the first two of what would become eight undefeated seasons.

All the wins are sweet - but the Class A titles, Campbell said, are sweeter.

"Winning 400 games doesn't touch a state championship," he said. "They get more special the older I get."

Congratulations, you dominating little Devils.

Well, scratch the "little" part.