LJ: 52 players survived the Devils 2000 Football Camp

August 09, 2000

If it's not one thing, it's another.

This year, it was the rain instead of the heat that made conditions less than perfect for the 52 Red Devils participating in football camp July 31 through August 4.

"As bad as we needed the rain, we got a little more than we would have liked during the week of camp," said Larry Campbell, athletic director and head football coach at LCHS. "Although the rain forced us to shorten some of our practices, everything else went really well.

"We were very pleased with our kids' efforts," the coach continued. "They did everything we asked with very little complaining. Their work ethics were superb. In fact, we had the best turnout for summer workouts we've ever had."

Yet, in spite of the hard work and preparation, the team did not come out of camp with all its questions answered. Campbell expressed his concern about the degree to which two of his key players will be able to come back from knee injuries sustained last season. The coaches took it easy on inside linebacker Zaron Shanks and tailback Allory Norman during the week of camp. Both players are recovering from knee surgery.

There were also injuries that occurred at camp: sophomore running back Courtney Partlow broke his wrist, and senior linebacker Daniel Cook aggravated an old wrist injury.

With Allory Norman coming back off an injury and Courtney Partlow out of commission, the position of running back remains an unanswered question, according to Campbell.

Along with injuries, graduation has also exacted a toll on the Red Devils. "Graduation hurt a lot," said the coach. "We lost several key players including quarterback/defensive back Dominique Mason; wide receiver/defensive back Torri Zellars; offensive lineman Marcus Ramsey; running back/defensive back Exzavier "Chip" Wright; and defensive lineman Reggie Crite." Ramsey was named all-state, with Wright and Crite making the all-state second team.

Focusing on the defense, Campbell said the Red Devils lost their entire secondary except for Rick Stokes, the only returning starter. "We also had a lot of our defensive linemen to graduate so there's not much depth there."

In all, five starters are returning on defense and five on offense; some of these play both.

Another concern for the coach is the fact that quarterback Andrew Smalley has no experience as a starter in his position.

On the bright side, Coach Campbell said the team's strength is its offensive line, with all of the starters returning except for Marcus Ramsey. "We have a number of seniors, and senior leadership should be a plus," he stated. "However, we were a little disappointed with the offensive line during the camp - they had not played up to par so far."

Regarding the number of seniors on the team, it is loaded with 18. "Hopefully, they will come out and give tremendous leadership," Campbell said. "They have been in two state championship games so far but have lost two. Hopefully, they will be willing to work a little harder to take it another step this year."

Commenting on the kicking game, the coach said, "We're working on it hard every day. Andrew Smalley will be doing extra points and punting - we're still looking for people for the kickoff."

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In other items of information, the coach said the Red Devils will soon have the opportunity to test their metal in a pre-season game against Evans High School, a Class AAAAA school with 2,000 students.

The LCHS-Evans game, which will consist of three 12-minute quarters, will take place on Friday, August 25, at 7:30 p.m. in Evans. Admission is $5.

Commenting on the upcoming season, Coach Campbell said, "In my opinion, we will play our toughest regular season schedule since I've been here - these will be our toughest opening six games ever. We could easily be 3-3 and still have a good football team."

The Red Devils' first six opponents are: Hephzibah High School, a Class AAAA team; across-the-river rival McCormick High School; Washington-Wilkes Comprehensive High School, ranked by some as the number-one Class AA team in the state; and Class A powerhouses Commerce High School, Buford High School, and Athens Academy.

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