Cal­houn clinches state record-break­ing 18th straight re­gion ti­tle

Calhoun Times - - Sports Saturday - By Spencer Lahr [email protected]­hounTimes.com

With Fri­day night’s 49-0 win over LFO, the Cal­houn Yel­low Jack­ets and head coach Hal Lamb are now state record hold­ers, as the pro­gram with the long­est streak of re­gion cham­pi­onships — 18 to be ex­act.

“I can’t say enough about the play­ers that have done this,” Lamb said on this cold Fri­day night in early No­vem­ber, as play­ers, both for­mer and cur­rent, stood on the field with their fam­ily and friends. “This bunch es­pe­cially, we were able to get the 18th re­gion cham­pi­onship.”

Af­ter an at­tempt by his play­ers to douse him with the wa­ter jug, the fi­nal sec­onds of what was a run­ning clock since the start of the sec­ond half ticked away, and the Yel­low Jack­ets (10-0, 8-0 Re­gion 6-AAA) ce­mented the pres­tige of their pro­gram in the record books.

“You know it’s just amaz­ing to do what we’ve done, re­ally,” Lamb said. “There’s a lot of play­ers who’ve come through the pro­gram and there’s a lot of tra­di­tion.”

“There’s an aw­ful lot of peo­ple I need to thank. There’s too many to thank,” he con­tin­ued. “It’s been a spe­cial run.”

Af­ter the hand­shake line fin­ished and LFO ran for the locker room, the Cal­houn play­ers and staff stayed on the field to wait for fans to par­take in the spe­cial pre­sen­ta­tion to com­mem­o­rate the mo­ment. There on the field wait­ing with a plaque in hand was Lamb’s fa­ther, Ray Lamb, who won 249 games and three state cham­pi­onships over a 32-year ca­reer of coach­ing high school foot­ball in Ge­or­gia.

When his fa­ther was fin­ished read­ing from the plaque — which noted the Ge­or­gia state record, pre­vi­ously held by Lin­coln County when it was un­der the lead­er­ship of leg­endary coach Larry Camp­bell — Lamb was sur­rounded by his play­ers, the lat­est group to wear the Re­gion 6-AAA crown.

The crowd then turned to The Reeve’s video board, where the pic­tures of each of Lamb’s 18 re­gion cham­pion teams ap­peared, lead­ing in to “Ain’t No Moun­tain High Enough” as the first photo came up. When the last pic­ture, those of this year’s team with the open-ended con­clu­sion of “much more to come” un­der­neath them, fire­works shot into the air from be­hind the screen as the crowd on the field cheered.

Com­ing into Fri­day’s game, Lamb said he was un­sure of how his team was go­ing to come out against the up­set­minded LFO War­riors (7-3, 6-2 in Re­gion 6-AAA).

“I didn’t know how men­tally ready we were or not,” he said, es­pe­cially af­ter fac­ing one of the best run­ning backs in the state last week in Har­al­son County’s Trey­lan Shep­pard. “But we were and we came out and took care of busi­ness and ex­e­cuted on both sides of the ball.”

The Yel­low Jack­ets scored on each of their first four of­fen­sive pos­ses­sions.

Zack Fuller ran it in from 15 yards out to open the scor­ing just un­der three min­utes into the game, af­ter the Cal­houn de­fense forced LFO to punt.

On the next two pos­ses­sions for the War­riors of­fense, they were forced to punt af­ter their drives stalled out, and Cal­houn jumped on the op­por­tu­nity each time with a score. Fuller scored again on a 15-yard run with 4:24 left in the first quar­ter, fol­lowed by David Braden snag­ging a Gavin Gray ball in the end­zone to make the score 21-0 just over two min­utes into the sec­ond quar­ter. The Braden score fol­lowed a fourth-down con­ver­sion on a slant route from Gray to Bralin Bar­ton in the red­zone.

On the next se­ries for LFO, Collin Baggett chased down War­rior quar­ter­back Malachi Pow­ell off the end and forced a fum­ble re­cov­ered by Cal­houn. On the third drive of the en­su­ing pos­ses­sion for Cal­houn, Jonkell Tolbert ran it in from four yards out, giv­ing his team the 28-0 lead.

The fum­ble trou­bles con­tin­ued for LFO on the next drive, as pres­sure on the quar­ter­back put the ball on the turf. And it was sent rolling back­ward when an LFO player tried to dive on the ball but missed. Cal­houn play­ers scram­bled for the ball, with one briefly pick­ing it up be­fore fum­bling him­self. Fi­nally, Car­son Grif­fin was able to grab it and run it in for the score, with 6:41 left in the first half.

Cal­houn would go on to score once more be­fore half­time, when Gray hit Bran­non Spec­tor on a 25-yard touch­down pass with 15.5 sec­onds re­main­ing.

The sec­ond half saw sub­sti­tutes get some play­ing time. Early in the fourth quar­ter, backup quar­ter­back Jake Mor­row threw a 10-yard score to Grant Gilmer to bring the score to 49-0.

The War­riors only made it into Cal­houn ter­ri­tory a hand­ful of times and were never able to sus­tain any drives due to costly penal­ties and a sti­fling Yel­low Jacket front which pun­ished the triple-op­tion.

But now Cal­houn starts an­other sea­son, Lamb said, as it will take next week to pre­pare for Fan­nin County in the first round of the play­offs.

“It’s a new sea­son,” he said. “Hope­fully it’s a five-week sea­son. We take it one on a time. We’ve gotta be ready to play next week or else it’s all over. We’ve got to keep get­ting bet­ter.”

/ Tim God­bee

Cal­houn High School Head Foot­ball Coach Hal Lamb sur­rounded by mem­bers of his fam­ily on Nov. 2.

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