Murray County head coach John Hammond says not to worry. He’s safe around sharp knives and high ledges.
Murray County has opened the seasons with losses by scores of 70-0, 73-0 and 70-0 – the worst start for a team in Georgia history – but the first-year coach is enjoying his new job and the challenge of rebuilding a program that has only two players back who played the entire 2010 season.
The opening of North Murray in 2009 has turned this northwest Georgia county into a two-high school system and stunted the development of football – for the time being. Both teams are 0-3.
“We’re going through a split, and it’s finally hit us,” Hammond said. “It’s the split and a lack of game experience. We’re going through a rough season, rougher than I thought, but we’re also getting better each week, and every kid is getting playing time.”
Hammond has 40 players on his roster, and they all play. Many also play two quarters on the JV team each week. Murray County starts three freshmen on defense, and 12 play every game. Hammond’s plan is to build for the future.
A decade ago, Murray County football was thriving. The Indians went 29-8 from 1999 to 2001 during a population boom in the county. But Murray County found itself in Class AAAAA in 2002, and it has been a struggle since. With the new school opening, Murray is back to AAA but still not on solid ground.
According to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association, only three other teams have allowed 70 points in a game three times in a season.
Blakeney of Waynesboro was the first in 1967 – losing to Laney 71-0, Tompkins 84-0 and Hamilton 95-0. Blakely was outscored 419-0 that season.
In 1969, Wheeler County lost to East Laurens 75-0, Savannah Country Day 92-6 and Mount de Sales 76-0.
In 2004, Stewart-Quitman lost to Pacelli 81-0, Terrell County 76-0 and Randolph-Clay 73-0.
Hammond, who spent eight years as an assistant at the school before becoming head coach, says his players are not demoralized. They just go out and play. He says no players have quit the team.
Murray plays tonight against LaFayette (2-1).
“I’ve been on teams that were 0-10 to 14-0 and state champions,” Hammond said. “You’d like to say you’ve seen it all. It’s something you‘ve got to go through, and you’re becoming a better person, coach and team because of it.”
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