The 12-0-1 Trojans, ranked fourth in Class AA, will face a daunting task as they travel to face the No. 1 state-ranked and defending Class AA state champion Calhoun Yellow Jackets (13-0) in the Class AA semifinals at Phil Reeve Stadium in Calhoun. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.
If there ever was a time for the Trojans to win a coin flip between No. 1 seeds, this was it. Calhoun has won 41 consecutive home games and has won 17 straight home playoff games dating back to 2007. The Yellow Jackets’ last home loss was to Cartersville in 2008.
“It’s great for the community and the kids that we get to play in a state Final Four game, the first-ever in Lamar County history. It would’ve been nice to be at home, but I’m sure other teams would trade places with us,” said Trojans first-year head coach Franklin Stephens, who has been this far with Tucker twice (2008, 2011). “The guys are excited to play — they realize they are very close to the ultimate goal of winning a state title.”
While this is the very first Final Four appearance for Lamar, it’s old hat for Calhoun. Calhoun has made the state finals an astounding five times this millennium (2005, 2008-11) and finally broke through to beat their nemesis Buford last year to capture the crown.
This year’s Calhoun team is just as potent. The Yellow Jackets are averaging 46 points per game while holding teams to 13 points per game. On offense, they’ve scored 40 or more points 10 times this year, with their high being a 69-0 win over Murray County on Oct. 19.
Lamar defenders Bo Dunn, Ray Lyons and others will have their hands full dealing with a Calhoun team which features a wide array of weapons, like quarterback Taylor Lamb (3,166 yards passing), who was named the Gatorade state player of the year, WR Josh Barnes (81 catches for 1,002 yards and five touchdowns), WR Tydus Curtis (54 catches, 875 yards, 11 TDs) and RB Alex Urbano (1,119 yards, 21 TDs; 31 catches, 313 yards).
“They don’t have weapons, they have an arsenal. Their whole offense is great. You pretty much have to cover everybody,” Stephens said. “They also play hard on defense and tackle well. It’s a testament to what coach Hal Lamb has done for that program. Coach Jason Strickland before me and now I want to establish that here at Lamar County.”
Lamar County is no slouch, of course, averaging 37 points per game while holding opponents to 10 points per game. Stephens said his guys will have to continue playing at a high level in order to win this game.
“We can’t have turnovers and penalties and we must limit their explosive plays while creating explosive plays of our own,” he said.
And if the Austin twins, Lance and Lawrence, along with RB Jeremy Fletcher and others can remain explosive, the Trojans have the chance to pull off the upset and head to the Georgia Dome Dec. 15 for the Class AA state championship game.
“If we win this game, there will be no more coin flips. We’ll all be in one place,” Stephens said.