Lumpkin remains hungry for more in midst of historic run [VIDEO]
Something special is going on in Lumpkin County, as the Indians are 4-0 for the first time since 1988. A program that had seen 5 head coaches from 2012-2019 had a real culture problem, as Lumpkin County not only struggled to win — no winning seasons since 2011, and one playoff run (’14) since then — but struggled to keep the program invigorated. All that is a thing of the past, as Lumpkin County is officially back on track. It’s no coincidence that it comes with the arrival of veteran coach Heath Webb.
“I thought it was possible [to go 4-0],” says Webb. “I knew that we were taking a group of guys that weren’t accustomed to winning games…we were just going to see how well we handle the adversity.”
Webb inherited the exact same roster that was in place from last season. And though last year these kids won a couple of games, this looks like a different recipe that is producing better results.
“If you look at our roster, we have Lumpkin County kids,” adds Webb. “We took the kids that we have in the building, and made them better. We did that by the hard work of the kids — the work ethic of the kids has been tremendous. They’ve bought it. The fit is important…small town country boy coaching small town country boys. And I hired staff that way…that’s been the recipe. Hire the right people that fit in this community, and coach the kids hard.”
The players have certainly bought in and are excelling. Though the list is too great to name them all, the standout leaders so far have been senior QB Cooper Scott (545 pass yds, 4 TD; 202 rush yds, 5 TD), Mason Sullens (427 rush yds, 8 TD; 46 rec yds), Cal Faulkner (156 rec yds, 2 TD; 63 rush yds, 2 TD; 2 INT), Will Wood (98 rush yds, 1 TD; 8 TKL, 2 TFL, 2 FR), and many others.
The Indians are relishing this start and the excitement around Dahlonega, and talk about the change in culture.
“Everyone is just more positive,” says Faulkner. “You’ll walk by someone, and they’ll be like ‘oh, great win last night’, and it’s just a lot of positivity in the school.”
“It’s huge,” exclaims Scott. “We’ve been working for the past four years to get to this goal. It’s huge for the community, for the school system. We’ve known as a team what we can do, we’ve had the talent for years. But now everybody backing us, knowning what we can do, it’s huge for the culture.”
“When coach Webb got here, we could tell there was something different,” adds Sullens. “We started putting in a different workout program, and started making us better at everything really.”
The team is confident, even with the adding pressure that comes with a quick start and all the hype.
“Every game we just go into it like we can win,” says Wood. “Like coach says, he’ll put us up against anybody. We celebrate the wins, but as soon as we know it’s time to prepare for the next game, we move on.”
The Indians aren’t just squeaking out wins, they’re currently carrying a top-5 ranked offense and defense in Class 3A. Lumpkin County is averaging 41 points per game, and only 8.3 allowed. Prior to their recent win over Temple (27-20), Lumpkin had allowed all of 13 total points. The 164 points scored is the most in a season for Lumpkin since 2016, and we’re only 4 games in.
“I’m very proud,” says coach Webb of the offense that has so many players contributing, including 13 different players with receptions and 12 with carries. “Just a balance of wealth…it’s good for our future. It’s pretty cool to be in the top five both offensively and defensively. We have a bunch of guys playing with their hair on fire…just wide open on defense.”
The future is certainly bright, with standouts Sullens, Wood, Faulkner, and Harper Davenport among the underclassmen playing at a high level. But the team’s focus is on the right now, and that includes the region schedule which opens up in Week Six against Pickens at home.
“I think it’s a very evenly-matched region,” admits Webb. “The difference between the 1-seed and the 4-seed will be very slim. Anybody can beat anybody…it’s going to be a lot of fun, it’s going to be stressful for us coaches, it’s going to be a lot of fun for the fans, but this region should be a lot of fun because I think there’s a lot of parody.”
With the Indians opening region play at home, and finishing off the regular season with a pair of home games against Dawson County and West Hall, the schedule might favor Lumpkin. Nevertheless, the team continues to stick to what has got them here.
“Hard work pays off,” states Scott of the team’s motto this season. “Since coach Webb got here, in our workouts, anything we’ve done in pracitce, he tells us hard work pays off, and it’s showing now on Friday nights.”
“We’ve talked about staying focused,” says Webb. “Enjoy those moments and relish in those successful moments because they haven’t had a whole lot. Normally you would tell a kid to forget it and move on — I’m not telling them to forget it, I’m telling them to enjoy it and relish in the momnent. But at the ssae time, don’t get too caught up in it, because you’ll get humbled really quickly. It’s been unique to see our guys win a ball game, and then get really hungry to win another one. That hunger piece has been a lot of fun.”