Lincoln County's 27-8 victory over Hancock Central here last Friday night apparently clinched the #1 seed for the Red Devils in the Class A Public playoff bracket.
The GHSA is set to finalize the Class A playoff brackets on November 14, after the press deadline for this issue of The Lincoln Journal. The final seeding and first round opponents will not be certain until then.
What is certain is that all Class A teams have this Friday off, and Lincoln County will host a first round game on November 23. If the Devils are the #1 seed and win, they would play at home until the finals in the Dome.
With the Class A playoffs split between public and private schools starting this year, Class A will only play four rounds to determine a champion in each of the two 16-team tournaments. Region champions are seeded at the top, ordered by their calculated power rating. As the 7-A champ, our Devils are guaranteed one of the top spots. Their projected power rating puts them at #1. Each team's power rating is based on their schedule, the results of the schedule, and their opponents' results.
Other Region 7-A teams making the playoffs look to be Wilkinson County and Hancock Central in the public bracket, and Aquinas and First Presbyterian Day in the private bracket.
With our Red Devils idle this week, there will be Red Devils playing in Thomson and Washington in first round games. The Jackson Red Devils visit the undefeated Bulldogs, the #1 team in Class AAA. The Bowdon Red Devils visit the 9-1 Tigers, the 8-AA runner-ups. Other than the loss to Jefferson, Washington-Wilkes' toughest game this year was with our Red Devils.
In last week's regular season final against Hancock Central, the Devils played inexperienced players to get them ready for the playoffs and to rest some banged-up starters.
The visiting Bulldogs actually led in total yardage and time-of-possession. They ran 67 offensive plays for 293 yards, compared to 36 plays and 175 yards for the winners.
Hancock came ready to play, recovering its onside kick attempt to start the game at the LC 35. Three plays later Zireycus Letman grabbed a Bulldog pass and outraced the visitors 72 yards to the endzone for the defensive touchdown. James Spratlin added the PAT kick, and the Devils led 7-0 97 seconds into the game.
The Bulldogs drove to midfield on their next possession, but an offensive pass interference penalty on fourth down gave the pigskin to the Devils at the Hancock 42. The two teams exchanged punts, with a block of the Hancock attempt giving the Devils great field position at the Hancock 30. Mike McIntire gained nine, and Jamar Norman 11 on two carries to setup a 2-yard TD run by Norman. Spratlin's kick with 2:09 left in the opening stanza put the Devils up 14-0.
The Bulldogs then put together one of the longest drives ever against the Red Devils. The 20-play drive took over 11 minutes off the game clock before coming up short on fourth down at the LC 20.
Unfortunately a fumble on the next play gave the ball back to Hancock at the LC 11. The Devil Defense again stopped the Bulldogs on downs, this time at the LC 9. The Devils punted and held the Bulldogs on two plays at midfield to preserve the 14-0 halftime advantage.
In the third quarter, the Devils took over at the Bulldog 34 after a poor punt effort. Norman rushed for 21 yards on 4 carries before scoring from the 6 midway the quarter. The PAT was good for a 21-0 lead.
The Bulldogs came up short on a fourth down in their territory, but an interception prevented the Devils from taking advantage. Four plays later Norman snatched the ball back on an interception. Lakeith Lockhart rushed for 24 yards on 3 carries from the QB position before Norman added runs of 5 and 1. Lockhart then found Letman for the final nine yards to paydirt. The kick was blocked, but the Devils led 27-0 with 11:00 left in the game.
After punts by each side, a Bulldogs' running back broke loose for 45 yards and the only Hancock score of the night. The PAT run was good with 3:01 left. The final margin was 27-8.
With the win, the Devils finish the regular season at 9-1 with a 7-0 region record. This is the 30th time a Larry Campbell team was undefeated in region play, and the 36th time that a team has won at least nine games. Campbell is now 468-80-3 in his 41st season as the Red Devil head coach.