1973: The Beginning of Something Very Special

August 28, 2012

As a new football season approaches, former players reminisce about their time in uniform, and the bonds they built with fellow players and coaches.

Mike Adkins, while traveling on business in South America, provided these thoughts on the 1973 season. We did a little editing, mostly, as Mike requested, to keep Mrs. Estes happy.

"Guys obvious you are doing a great job with this website and thanks for helping with this tradition. I noticed that you did not have the 1973 Team listed which may have been one of the best teams never to make it out of the Region. This team was loaded with a Senior and Junior group that was the start of Coach Campbell’s dynasty. Of course the next year was the 1974 season which you seem to have listed and also a lot of information surrounding Coach’s 1st State Championship [game]. If not for the pass over my head at the end of the game, which I can remember like yesterday, this would have been one of the biggest upsets.

"Getting back to the 1973 team, if my memory serves me correctly, the standings were Lincoln County 8-1-1 and Harlem that year finished 9-0-1. Harlem advanced to the playoffs. This was before the games won determined who advanced and only one team for the Region could advance for tournament play. Obvious Harlem went for our region and not sure who even won the State that year as we were disappointed to not make the playoffs. I am pretty sure the tie game was LC vs Louisville since I got the Player Award for that game at the banquet.

"This is some of the players that year. I know all we need to do is look in the Yearbook and the SRs are there and the roster may be in there for Graduation Class 1974. The way we knew who lettered was you always got a sweater 1st year. A finger tip if you lettered your second year unless you were a SR. Sr. would always get a leather tip for lettering (sleeves leather).

"Just an FYI: Don Cartledge, W.T. Williams, Alex Bell, Mike Adkins, and maybe a few others lettered our sophomore year (1972). You show me lettering varsity as a freshman (1971); that did not happen but not a big deal as there are others showing lettering that did not travel with the Varsity. Most would know since we would be able to wear our finger tip jacket most of our SR year where others would be wearing sweaters. Remember the Football year lags the Graduation year by one. My SR year played fall 1974 and graduated June 1975. I lettered in Football 1972, 1973, and 1974. ..."

Tradition's note: Click for 1973 roster and schedule, including game clipping on opening win against Washington-Wilkes. Harlem lost to Putnam County in the 7-A region playoff game. Mt. de Sales defeated Commerce in the state final. Lincoln County was actually playing up a class in Class A when they qualified for Class B.

Mike shared more thoughts in a second email:

"No matter where I travel a piece of my heart is still in Lincolnton Georgia. ... I think we can get this updated so that the guys from 1973 get some recognition for what was really a better team than the 1974 Team that went on to Coachs 1st State Championship Game. Of course not many people want to talk about State Runner Ups, and the fact that the 1973 team did not make it out of the region was a shame.

"The 1973 team was the beginning of the dynasty that Larry has created. Coach is never one to take the spotlight and the comments on your website talking about the 1974 game was very typical of his approach to his success. I sent my pictures into The Lincoln Journal for Coachs 300th when everyone was asked to send a note on how he has impacted not only the community but the boys that he helped turn into men. The values that I learned at an early age playing football in Lincoln County have served me well.

"On another note, the bus ride back from Trion that year was the longest trip in my life. For many of us it was last game and is was a special group of guys that I continue to have a special bond with."

Our thanks to Mike for his emails. We encourage others to email us at tradition@reddevils.us or post on the Red Devils Facebook page.