When seeking reasons Lamar County is among Class AA’s five teams near an undefeated regular season, one statistic jumps out.
In their 7-0-1 start, the No. 6 Trojans have forced 22 turnovers — 11 fumbles and 11 interceptions. That’s nearly three a game for the Region 4-AA squad.
Friday’s 39-7 Region 4-AA win over Bleckley County featured a season-high six, including three fumbles and two interceptions. The first five led to points, according to the Macon Telegraph.
“It was unbelievable how many we had (Friday),” Lamar coach Franklin Stephens said, “especially in a game of that magnitude.”
Seems everyone’s gotten in on the act. Cornerback twins Lance and Lawrence Austin have one pick apiece; linebacker Trey Evans has two; and safety Quay Searcy has three. Linebacker Antwan Wallace has recovered two fumbles and forced two others in the last two games.
The result: Lamar has outscored five region opponents 40-4 on average, en route to potentially a second undefeated regular season and region championship. The Trojans’ starting defense has allowed only one region touchdown, a 22-yard pass that brought Bleckley within 10-7 in the second quarter.
Lamar defensive coordinator Jamie Abrams credits voluntary drills after practice that stress stripping the ball while tackling, making interceptions and properly recovering fumbles.
“Yea, (turnovers) have been pretty important,” Abrams said. “Our defense has done a good job.”
But Abrams attributed as much of Lamar’s success to its offense. It has helped outscore opponents 35-7 overall and has the Trojans needing to beat only Macon County on Friday or Crawford County in the regular-season finale to clinch region.
Yet talk of undefeated regular seasons isn’t new for Stephens, who coached Tucker to three in five years there, as well as two state championships, before coming to Lamar this season.
“The regular season is just a prep session for the playoffs,” he warned. “The rankings and all those things don’t really matter. It’s the postseason that matters.”