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The road to the Dome has been long

The Trojans and much beefier Benedictine Cadets were tied at 7-7 in the fourth quarter Friday night when BC punted. The ball rolled dead on Lamar’s six-yard line. I pulled out my phone and made a note of the yard line and the time remaining on the clock: 7:23. I could sense the Cadets tiring and knew in my gut the game-winning drive was about to commence and commence it did. The Trojans converted five third downs and one critical fourth down that came when backup quarterback L.J. Smith, subbing for starter Lance Austin who lost his helmet on the previous play, gained three yards on a sneak on fourth and one. It was huge! Austin then got 10 more yards and the Trojans ran several plays, centering the ball and forcing BC to use up its timeouts before Tyler Scandrett nailed a 25-yard field goal as time expired for a 10-7 win. The victory, which played out before a standing room only crowd, propelled the Trojans to the school’s first state championship game Saturday at the Georgia Dome – a big stage for a big time team that is extremely well coached and boasts a roster full of players who aren’t the biggest but are fleet of foot and refuse to lose. Things have not always been that way. The road to the Dome has been a long one. I am in my 35th year of working the Trojan sidelines. In some cases, I am on the grandchildren of the players I started with. I have missed very few games over that span. There were many seasons in which Lamar trotted poor or mediocre teams out onto the field. Only in recent years have the Trojans become perennial playoff contenders. There were thrilling moments. A huge comeback at Cook County that fell one point short. Two game winning field goals in playoffs by Tyler Scandrett this year and last. A last second field goal by Ronald (Blue) Jones years ago that beat Mary Persons in Forsyth for the first time. Nervous, Jones asked Coach Charley Brown what would happen if he missed. The coach told him it was third down and if he missed he could try again. Falsely reassured, Jones nailed the kick and the Trojans won. For every thrill there were five or six blowouts endured. There was also heartbreak. Lamar’s last drive at Calhoun last year stalling out. A phantom holding call by an officiating crew bent on a little home cooking that brought back a touchdown as time ran out on a key game in Manchester one Friday night. Lamar lost. That was as close to a riot as I have witnessed up close and personal. There are countless other memories. A great touchdown catch by John John Sutton at Summers Field where a helicopter was once brought in to dry the turf for a playoff game. The big blades just pushed the water from one corner of the swampy field to another and the game was played in a quagmire that was dangerous for players but heaven for a photographer until jersey numbers could no longer be discerned. So, after a long, winding journey we arrive at the Big Dance. There will be nails bitten and sleep lost. But, there are certainties. This Trojan team and coaching staff have made the community proud and they will do so again this week. And, their fans will turn up, turn out and the thunder will roll in the Dome. We are Lamar! Through thick and thin, we always have been. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of the Herald Gazette.

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