Lincoln Gives Wolves A Big Sendoff
LINCOLN — Widespread community involvement spearheaded a show of support for the Lincoln High School football team as they prepared for Friday’s playoff game at Hamburg.
The Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce, school board members, parents and football fans collaborated to celebrate the “Wolves heading to the playoffs” with fun events happening throughout last week.
Last Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, a bonfire at the high school south lawn drew a crowd.
“The Lincoln Wolfpack football team is state playoff bound and hundreds of community members came together to cheer them on,” said school board member Kendra Moore. “Supporters cheered the players on together with the Lincoln High School cheer team, band, Pee Wee cheer and of course the Wolfpack football team.”
Lincoln coach Don Harrison spoke enthusiastically.
“This team has worked really hard to get here and it’s so great the community came out to support them in a big way.” Harrison said.
Lincoln athletic director Deon Birkes addressed the gathering expressing excitement for coaching leadership and praised the team for the perseverance and togetherness he has observed this season. Birkes acknowledged countless hours invested in the program by Harrison and his staff saying he is grateful for their leadership. This team has been exciting to watch Birkes said commending their heart and determination.
Birkes recalled a job opening occurring for the head football coaching position four years ago. Birkes said the school wanted to hire a quality coach and found one in Harrison.
“I always have a plan that it should be a five-year plan, and in year five you should see a product; but I think we saw it in year four,” Birkes said. “We got a great product here.”
Thunderous applause erupted recognizing the 8-2 overall regular season record achieved by Lincoln with a 5-2 record in the 4A-1 Conference.
“But the one thing that we did do is we did beat Prairie Grove,” Birkes said, referring to the Nov. 2 regular season shootout in which Lincoln and Prairie Grove combined for more than 1,200 yards of offense and 107 points with the Wolves winning 59-48.
“Hey, when I was in school here the one thing that we always did, you could go 0-for, but you always tried to beat Prairie Grove,” Birkes said. “That was a big thing, but not only are they beating Prairie Grove, they’re going to the playoff also and these guys are pretty special out there.”
Birkes said he has told a thousand people since Friday, “That was probably one of the most enjoyable, fun-to-watch games,” that he’s watched in a long, long time.
“It was enjoyable because of several things,” Birkes said. “They played hard, they took up adversity and they kept going, and kept going, and kept going.”
Prairie Grove led 7-0 in the first quarter, then Lincoln reeled off 20-straight points to move in front, 20-7, at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, Prairie Grove erupted for 28 points, including 21 unanswered that put Lincoln at a 28-20 deficit. The Wolves rallied to tie the game, but Prairie Grove forged a 5-play, 64-yard touchdown drive capped by Ethan Guenther’s 37-yard scoring pass to Jake Watson with 36.7 seconds on the clock before halftime.
Lincoln responded by taking less than 22 seconds to score on Cam Brown’s 16-yard touchdown run as he took a shovel pass from quarterback Caleb Lloyd and was off to the races. The extrapoint kick was blocked and Prairie Grove maintained a 35-34 halftime lead.
Lincoln scored three touchdowns in the third, but failed to convert all of them, which kept Prairie Grove within 52-48 midway through the fourth quarter. The Wolves’ defense got two key stops in the second half including Sterling Morphis’ interception deep in Lincoln territory. The turnover allowed the Wolves to burn three minutes off the clock and Prairie Grove, which never ran out of offense with 547 total yards, finally ran out of time with Lincoln winning, 59-48.
“They had a player go down (senior linebacker Bradley Drain in the first quarter), they stepped up, they stepped in his spot,” Birkes said. “That’s what true team’s about and these guys they’re a great team and I think there’s a lot more in store, not just this week (at Hamburg), but in weeks to come.”
According to Moore, Harp’s Food store, Arvest Bank Lincoln, Lincoln Booster Club and Hog Box all contributed to the festivities with food and supplies for the bonfire.
On Thursday at 1:30 p.m. varsity football players, cheerleaders, and fans walked through the Elementary and Middle Schools.
On Friday, at 8:45 a.m. student body and staff lined up on Wolfpack Way to send the team off with a police escort, signs, and cowbells.
Birkes arranged for a pep bus to make the 300-plus mile drive to Hamburg, projected around five hours drive-time in a car. The high school band and pep bus left later than the football team.
“We’re going to pack the (pep) bus out, however we got to so we can get down there,” Birkes said. “Let’s go down there, let’s get crazy because I can tell you the last time we went to the playoffs on a long road, we went to Malvern; and we had a bigger crowd and a louder crowd than they did. So, let’s repeat that.”
The Chamber expressed thanks to the public for their support of Wolfpack Athletics.
A bonfire burning on the south lawn of Lincoln High School was the gathering place for the Nov. 7 pep rally for the Wolves’ football playoff. Hotdogs were served and the achievement, Lincoln’s fifth playoff season in school history, was celebrated.