Jamie Abrams doesn’t want the 2013 season to be a one-time affair for the Lamar County football program.
Just five years removed from a 1-9 season in 2008, Lamar County made it to the Georgia Dome for the GHSA Class AA championship game last season. And while the Trojans lost 14-7 to Lovett, the game capped what was by far the most successful season (14-1) in the program’s history.
With Lance Austin, Lawrence Austin and Qua Searcy on the roster at Georgia Tech and head coach Franklin Stephens now in the southern part of the state at Class AAAAA Ware County, Lamar County could have started over. But Abrams, who was Stephens’ defensive coordinator, doesn’t want to tinker with what was already in place.
“I was here two years under Coach Stephens, and my whole thing is that were gonna develop a program, not just to have a good team right now,” said Abrams, whose only other head coaching experience was a one-year stint at Wadley in Alabama. “There are steps that we’re taking to be a legitimate program.”
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Lamar County’s season starts Friday when it hosts Howard in a zero-week game. Only five starters return on each side of the ball for a team that relies numerous two-way starters. Many of those are on the offensive line, which will be tasked with leading the way for a young backfield.
James Bannister is a four-year starter at center, while Chris Elliott is a three-year starter at left tackle. Other veterans, including some with starting experience on the defensive line, will give Lamar County a quality presence up front.
The skill position players, meanwhile, are a group that picked up extra experience last year during the Trojans’ five-game playoff run, either through game experience or the extra weeks of practice the team had.
Lamar County will retain the wing-T offense used by Stephens.
“I’m not gonna try to recreate the wheel,” Abrams said. “We’ve been in the wing-T for two years, and they ran it some before we got here. Going in and changing it up would have made for a slower transition, and that’s not what we’re looking for.”
Howard, meanwhile, enters Friday’s game on an upbeat note.
Coming off a 2-8 season in which the Huskies broke a 24-game losing streak, Howard’s varsity defeated Mount de Sales 30-0 in the first half of a scrimmage last week played in game-type conditions.
“We played well,” Howard head coach Barney Hester said. “We certainly have to get better, but you can’t complain when you score 30 points.
“Our kids realize that Mount de Sales is new in the Georgia High School (Association) and Class A, but they’re going to be fine. Our competition is going to get stronger as the season progresses, and it’s going to be really strong this week.”