That’s what’s on the line for Calhoun on Friday night when Model comes calling at Phil Reeve Stadium.
With a win, the defending Class AA state champion Jackets (8-0, 5-0) would clinch their 12th straight region title.
“It’s kind of crazy when you think about it,” said Calhoun coach Hal Lamb. “But our kids, community and coaches expect that. It’s not as easy as a lot of people think.
“I always thought this could be a special place, but I honestly didn’t know it could be this good. When we started winning, every class started to feed off each other, and we’ve been blessed to have great players, great support and great coaches.”
But first things first. Before the celebration can begin, the Jackets have to get that win over an improved Model team. The Devils (5-3, 4-1), led by Gordon Powers, who returned before the season for his second tenure as Model head coach, are in line for their first state playoff berth since 2003.
“I’ve been real impressed by Model,” said Lamb. “They are well-coached and disciplined, and they have the most speed on the field that we’ve seen since Carrollton.
“They will line up and run the power game at you, and they’ll also spread the field. They do a lot of things so we’ll have to be well prepared.”
An encouraging sign the last few weeks has been the play of the Calhoun defense, who had their problems earlier in the season, giving up over 35 points in each of the first three games. All they’ve done lately is get two straight shutouts and three in their last four games.
“I think our defense continues to get better every week,” said Lamb. “I’ve seen improvement every day in practice and more attention to detail, and that shows on Fridays. We’re not missing tackles like we did earlier in the year.”
While the defense has surged, the offense has continued to be steady led by senior quarterback Taylor Lamb. In his most recent game, he threw for 295 yards and five touchdowns in last Friday’s 53-0 win over Armuchee. It was the seventh game this season in which the Jackets have scored 40 or more points.
Taylor Lamb spread the ball out to several targets with Brett Moss catching two TDs and Tydus Curtis, Josh Barnes and Logan Walraven each having one apiece. Cole Jackson had the only rushing score of the game on a 44-yard scamper in the fourth quarter.
Jonah Gallman was solid in the kicking game as well, hitting three field goals against the Indians.
Hal Lamb said his team better come into Friday’s game against Model with the same mindset.
“Our kids better expect Model to come in and give us everything they have,” said Hal Lamb. “Their goal is to beat us to make it a three way tie with them, us and Pepperell.
“A lot’s at stake for Model so we can’t take them lightly.”
It’s hard to believe that with a win the Jackets would clinch their 12th straight region title. To have sustained success like that in any sport at any level is very rarely seen.
But Hal Lamb and the Jackets have seemed to find the right formula to not only win, but dominate their region for the last decade plus.
Model comes in as an improved team and a good story this year, but let’s face it, there’s no one in this region who is as talented and deep as the Jackets.
Add in the fact that Calhoun is playing at home and that a win would clinch the region title and you’ve got a bad recipe for the Devils.
Calhoun 49, Model 13