From Bearcats to Red Devils

IV. The Campbell Years: 1972-1979

(Note: This was written in 1980, and has not been updated to reflect the years since.)

"The Campbell Years: 1972-1979" consist of the first eight years that Larry Campbell was head coach at Lincoln County High School. "The Campbell Years" can more-or-less be described by one word: winning. Other words could also be used to describe the Red Devils under Head Coach Larry Campbell; Amazing, fantastic, unbelievable, incredible and great, to cite only a few.

"The Campbell Years" did not begin on a high note, except in the losing column. In 1972, Campbell's initial season, the Devils finished with a 3-7-0 mark overall, 1-7-0 in Region 7-A. One of the LCHS wins came with only six seconds left in the game (Wrens, 12-6). The Devils defense gave up 239 points, the most points given up by a Devil team in twenty-five years.

The year 1973 saw a vast improvement in the Red Devils; Lincoln County won eight, lost one, and tied one. Its 6-1-1 region record enable it to finish as runner-up in the 7-A race. Harlem won the region title and handed Lincoln its only loss, 14-6 there. LCHS outscored opponents 202-55. This dominance is exemplified in two games: Washington-Wilkes managed only three yards in total offense against the Devil defense while Lincoln rolled off over four hundred yards in offense against Hephzibah.

In 1974 the Lincoln County Red Devils played the most games a Lincolnton team had played to that time: thirteen. The Devils finished the year with a 9-4-0 record and the Class B South Georgia Championship. The Devils also captured the Region 4-B Championship and the sectional title McCormick handed Lincoln its second loss, 14-6 but the thing to take into consideration in this case is that McCormick was the number one team in South Carolina and the game was played in McCormick. Highpoints of the season included the scoring of sixty-eight points against Dacula and gaining of 426 yards on the ground by the Devil offense against Georgia Military College. Trion defeated Lincoln 7-0 for the state title in the northwest corner of Georgia; the scoring play came on a long pass with only 1:14 left in the game.

The Devils finished the 1975 season with a 9-3-0 mark overall and a 3-0-0 Region 4-B mark. Lincoln ended up as the South Georgia Runner-Up. The first two losses were by a total of seven points. The loss to Harlem was the last home loss during the regular season of the decade. The loss to Washington-Wilkes was the last regular season loss of the decade of the 1970's. The loss to eventual State-Champions, Lyons, in the South Georgia Championship game was the last home loss of the decade; this game, played December 5, 1975, was the last time Lincoln gave up more than twenty points for over four years.

In 1976 everything fell together as the Red Devils ran off thirteen straight wins on their way to the Class B State Football Championship. Lincoln shutout eight opponents, including all three playoff opponents, while outscoring opponents 427-33. Because of the great and overpowering success of the 1976 Red Devils, they were entered into the State of Georgia Athletic Hall of Fame. Lincoln also set a (LCHS) school record of seventy points scored in one game when it played Wadley. Roy Norman was named the Class B Back-of-the-Year. Norman and Tim Partridge each rushed for over one thousand yards. Coach Campbell was The Class B Coach-of-the-Year.

In 1977, the Devils proved that their 1976 state title and undefeated season was not a fluke as they again stomped thirteen opponents and won the State Class B football championship with a 22-7 come from behind victory over Jefferson on Buddy Bufford Field. The 73-0 win over Wadley shattered the previous record for most points in one game. Lincoln outpointed its opponents 428-52 for a two-year total of 855-85. The 1977 Devils were honored by a Resolution from the Georgia House of Representatives. Jerry Hearst, rushing for over a thousand yards, was named the Class B Back-of-the-Year. Larry Campbell was again the Coach-of-the-Year.

The 1977 title was the last Class B State Football Championship. The Georgia High School Association went from a B-A-AA-AAA to an A-AA-AAA-AAA and also moved the average daily attendance (ADA) limits on three of the four classes. It did not change the bottom line of Class AA and Lincoln County High was put into Class AA, Region 4, because it was about six students over the upper limit for Class A. This, Lincoln County High was one of the smallest high schools in Class AA.

The Red Devils surprised almost everyone by knocking off twelve opponents and winning the 1978 Region 4-AA Title. The twelve wins, coupled with the previous twenty-six victories, gave Lincoln County High a winning streak of thirty-eight games, a new Georgia state record. Lincoln outscored regular season opponents 324-15 and was ranked as number one in defense in the state at several points.

The year 1979 saw Lincoln County High almost do what may people considered impossible: it came almost as close as any team could to winning a title, and then losing it. Model booted a field goal with two seconds to go in the game to win the 1979 Class AA state title 24-21. Lincoln led 21-13 midway the fourth quarter but were tied with a touchdown and a two-point conversion. Lincoln pulled out its bag of tricks but was intercepted in its own territory. Several plays later the field goal was booted and Lincoln's dream was ended. The Red Devils had brought fifteen buses and numerous cars to the game. The Devils stands were filled by six p.m. Model's stadium, near Rome, was a four-hour drive from Lincolnton. That's fan support.

Even though they did not win the state title, the 1979 Devils set several new records that they and their fans were proud of. They played fifteen games, the most ever by a Lincoln County team; they won fourteen, the most ever by a Lincoln team; they scored five hundred point, the most ever by a Lincoln team. Lincoln demolished several of the top ten teams in the state, including top-ranked and unbeaten Mary Persons 27-7 at Forsyth, Persons' home field. Barney Bussey rushed for over a thousand yards, including several runs of over eighty yards.

Buddy Bufford Field underwent several changes during "The Campbell Years". The gymnasium was remodeled and enlarged. New lights were installed. The stands were expanded and a new parking lot was opened. The main entrance was relocated and redesigned with the original arch intact. A new scoreboard and public address system were also installed.

Lincoln County High's style during the last few seasons of "The Campbell Years" was simple: score quickly and often during the first half and then let the defense hold the opponents. Lincoln's offensive coordinator during most of "The Campbell Years" was Billy J. Beale, Jr., Campbell and Beale used almost every trick in the book.

The facts speak for themselves; it worked. Of their last fifty-four games played during "The Campbell Years" Lincoln won fifty-two and was leading or tied at halftime of each one. The program at Lincoln County High was called the most consistently successful football program in the state during the latter part of the 1970's.

Victorious - that was the motto of "The Campbell Years."

Next Section: Coach Buddy Bufford