Lincoln County will travel to Washington this Friday night to take on its archrival Washington-Wilkes for the 85th time. The intensity will be the same as the schools' first two meetings a century ago.
Washington played its first documented football games in 1919. Lincolnton followed in 1922 as former Mercer player W. T. "Tutt" Dunaway formed a team. Dunaway's college roommate Homer Grice coached Washington, and the two of them were the officials for the games. The two schools first met on Halloween in Lincolnton that year, and tied 7-all. The two schools would meet again on Thanksgiving in Washington, with Lincolnton losing 13-6. There apparently were some hard feelings over that game, as the two schools would not play each other again until 1939. The Red Devils would not claim their first win over the Tigers until 1949.
A closer look shows that Washington and Lincolnton's football history goes back before 1922. Tom Nash is arguably the most famous athlete to play for Washington. A 1928 Macon Telegraph article details his outstanding athletic record as a fullback on the Washington and Dahlonega teams before entering the University of Georgia in 1923. As a Bulldog, he lettered in football, baseball, and basketball his freshman year, and often played 60 minutes on the gridiron. He was Georgia's first football All-American.
The Lincolnton connection is that Nash spent his first nine years in Lincoln County. From the article: "Little did the inhabitants of Lincolnton, Georgia, realize what a momentous day the 22 of November, 1905, was; but on that day in their midst was born a child destined to fame. He was this same Tom Nash. When he was nine years old he moved to Washington and there he began his football career."
From Georgia Sports Hall of Fame website: "Tom Nash was born in Lincoln County and grew up in nearby Washington, Georgia. He played football at The University of Georgia where he was an All-Southern performer and a consensus All-American as an end in 1927. He went on to play professionally and was an All-Pro for the Green Bay Packers in 1932. Nash was part of the Packers World Championship teams in 1929, 1930, and 1931. He finished his seven year pro football career with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He also played minor league baseball. After his professional sports career ended, Nash returned to his hometown of Washington, where he was a successful businessman, coach, and elementary school principal. He was an assistant coach at UGA from 1943 to 1945."
Nash coached Washington to a 9-1 record in 1942 before taking the assistant coaching job in Athens. His first nine years in Lincolnton must have gotten him off to great start.
Washington-Wilkes should be a favorite again this year. The Tigers won 14-13 last year primarily thanks to a 77-yard kickoff return that opened the second half. W-W was ranked #7 coming into last year's game. W-W head coach Sid Fritts is 15-3 since taking charge before last season.
W-W, 6-1 overall and 2-0 in the region, is ranked #9 in the AJC/GHSF Daily poll and #8 in the combined poll. The Red Devils are currently unranked after a short stay at #5 earlier. Both teams are coming off an open date.
The Tigers have won six straight after a season-opening upset loss to Laney after leading in the second half. W-W and Lincoln County both lost to Class AA Laney by six points. Lincoln County edged Social Circle 28-27 in its last outing, while the Tigers whipped those Redskins 40-6. W-W beat Elbert County 42-35, while the Devils lost 28-16.
The Tigers' strong running attack is led by Jamarquez Tyson with 856 yards and QB Dalen Cobb with 810 yards. W-W is seventh in Class A Public with 38.29 points scored per game, and tenth with 13.14 points allowed per game. They have outscored their opponents 268-92.
In comparison, the Red Devils are averaging 26 points scored and 9 points allowed per game. They have outpointed their opposition 182-133 enroute to their 5-2 overall record. The Devils are also 2-0 in Region 8-A Public as is Commerce. The Commerce Tigers will host Social Circle this Friday.
LC leads the all-time series 40-38-6. The 25-0 Lincoln County win in the 2005 Class A State Championship game tied the series for the first time since 1922. Three years later the Devils took the series lead with a 14-6 win, 33-32-6. Lincoln County leads 34-18 since 1973.
The rivalry, known as "The 378 War" in recent years, is considered one of the best and most heated in Georgia. The two programs are among the most successful in Georgia. The Red Devils are 768-281-27 and at number three on the all-time Georgia win list. The Tigers are 660-382-34 and thirteenth. The Devils have 14 state football titles compared to four for the Tigers. The Devils beat the Tigers in two of the years that the Tigers won their state title in the next higher class (1960 and 1963).
The two teams have played every year since 1939 except 1956 and 1957. Twice the two schools met twice in a year (regular season + playoff). The Devils won both games both times.
In the 20 seasons that the two schools were in the same region, only once have the Tigers won the region football crown. The Devils captured the football trophy six times in those 20 years.
As always, a large crowd is expected in Washington for this important game. The pigskin will fly at 7:30. In addition to radio and internet, the game will be broadcast live on WJBF MeTV 6.2 with a rebroadcast Sunday on WJBF 6.