When it comes to the Calhoun Yellow Jackets, one thing is inevitable as long as Hal Lamb is their coach – they will make a deep run in the playoffs.
Since Lamb’s tenure as coach, which began in 1999, the Jackets have racked up 12 region titles. More impressive, those titles have come consecutively starting in 2001. All have come in Class AA and have culminated in six state championship appearances, including the last five.
But if there’s any disappointment to this remarkable run, it’s that the Jackets have just one state title — a 27-24 overtime victory against nemesis Buford in 2011. The Wolves had beaten Calhoun in the three previous AA title games. Last season ended with a 31-14 loss to Jefferson.
“For some odd reason, things just don’t go our way (in the title game),” said Lamb, who is 157-29 at Calhoun. “We’re very fortunate to get there, but when you get there it’s about finishing. You have to play nearly perfect, because championship teams take advantage of every mistake.”
No matter how heartbreaking it is for the Jackets to come up short, they always bounce back the following season — regardless of the same player turnover that every other program faces. That’s why there’s no reason to believe Calhoun isn’t primed for another region championship game and deep postseason run.
The Jackets lost quarterback Tayler Lamb to graduation along with receiver Josh Barnes, defensive back Donnell Anthony and defensive end Sebastian Willer — all of whom will continue their playing careers in college.
Now it’s Fields Chapman’s turn at quarterback, with lineman Katrova Dew, running back Alex Urbano and receiver Tydus Curtis being called upon to help lead the rest of the Jackets to continued success.
Lamb believes his players can keep the winning run going like so many classes before.
“Each class feeds off the previous class,” Lamb said. “There are high expectations here, and we expect to win. … We’re confident we can. We’re a very good football team. It’s a big deal to the players to make another run.
“To me, the single most important ingredient is team chemistry.”
Calhoun opens the season on the road against a Ridgeland team that played for the AAAA championship last year, followed with a home game against its north Georgia rival, the Dalton Catamounts, who are aiming for their second consecutive winning season. After another road game against an AAAA school, Carrollton, the Jackets are on to their Region 7-AA schedule. Pepperell and Model are expected to be the stiffest challengers in the way of a 13th consecutive Calhoun region title.
Georgia High School Football Daily ranks Calhoun as the No. 1 team in Class AA to start the season. At the very least, another trip to the playoffs is expected. The question is, will it end with a state championship?
Adam Krohn covers all things Class AA football. Have a question or tip? Want to see more coverage of your team? Want to drop a line to compliment how awesome the Class AA beat coverage is? Send Adam a message on Twitter @AdamKrohnAJC and follow him for the latest in Class AA coverage.