Lin­coln Gives Wolves A Big Send­off

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - SPORTS - By Mark Humphrey

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.

MARK HUMPHREY EN­TER­PRISE-LEADER

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.

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