The attempt to improve on last year’s record-setting season at Lamar County will start with a fresh emphasis on fundamentals. Blocking, tackling, being in the right position … all will be stressed when the Trojans begin their spring drills on May 6.
Lamar County, located between Atlanta and Macon in the town of Barnesville, is coming off a 12-1-1 season which saw the program reach the state semifinals for the first time. The Trojans were knocked off by No. 1-ranked Calhoun, one game short of reaching the Georgia Dome.
“We’re going to try improve our fundamentals,” said coach Franklin Stephens, whose team sandwiched 12 straight wins between a season-opening tie and the semifinal loss. “That’s the biggest goal on our football team, to improve our fundamentals.”
Lamar has a good nucleus of players back, including the heart of its Wing-T offense and its 3-3-5 defense.
The return of quarterback Lance Austin and tailback Lawrence Austin, a set of twins, promises plenty of trouble for the opposition. Lawrence was the Region 4-AA Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for more than 1,200 yards and Lance combined for 1,300 yards rushing and passing.
The defense returns Quay Searcy, who was the region’s co-defensive player of the year in 2012, but will miss all-region players Bo Dunn, Antwan Wallace and Sedarious Gotell.
“The defense lost some good players,” Stephens said. “And on offense we’re trying to find guys who can play fullback.”
Plus, like most other schools, Lamar County is looking for guys to play in the trenches on both sides of the ball.
“We’re always looking for linemen,” Stephens said. “I’m just looking for football players. We’re trying to get all the kids we’ve got involved. We’re trying to get as many kids as we can. It’s a numbers game.
“We want to build for the next step. Can we survive injuries and take the program where it needs to go.”
Like most smaller programs, depth is a concern at Lamar County. The numbers dipped a bit last year, but are expected to bounce back. There’s no question that the community has gotten behind the team, as evidenced by the turnout for their sendoff during the playoffs.
2012 record: 12-1-1, 7-0 in Region 4-AA, lost in semifinals to Calhoun
Starters returning: 7 on offense, 6 on defense
Key players lost: LB Trey Evans, DL Bo Dunn, RB/DB Antwan Wallace, DB Sidarious Gotel
Key players returning: RB Lawrence Austin, QB Lance Austin, PK Tyler Scandrett, DB Quay Searcy, LB Ray Lyons.
Spring practice dates:May 6-18; spring game on May 18 (time TBA)
Schedule: Aug. 30 Spalding; Sept. 6 at Eagle’s Landing; Sept. 13 at Pike County; Sept. 27 Taylor County; Oct. 4 at Northeast Macon; Oct. 11 Monticello; Oct. 18 Putnam County; Oct. 25 at Bleckley County; Nov. 1 Macon County; Nov. 8 at Crawford County.
Outlook: The Trojans return most of its offense, including Region 4-AA Offensive Player of the Year Lawrence Austin and co-Defensive Player of the Year Quay Searcy. Both were first-team all-state selections. Lamar should open the season in the top 10 and be one of the state’s players in 2013.