The 378 War!
This war started in 1922, and has raged ever since, including a skirmish during a 17-year cease-fire in the early days. This "neighborly" rivalry between the US 378 towns is now regarded as one of the best, and most heated, and often most bitter, in Georgia.
The ultimate battle in this series happened on December 2, 2005, in Lincolnton, when Lincoln County whipped the Tigers 25-0 for the 2005 Class A Championship. Nearly 7,000 persons watched as the Red Devils tied the series for the first time since 1922. The 2005 season marked the first time since 1922 that the Devils and Tigers met twice in a year, and the first playoff matchup between the two schools. We call this event simply, THE Game.
The Tigers shutout the Devils 3-0 in 2006 to retake the lead, but Lincoln County wins in 2007 and 2008 gave our Devils the series lead for the first time ever, 33-32-6.
(We're using the term "war" to reflect the intensity of this conflict, and in no way compare athletic contests to real war that the brave members of the US Armed Forces face every minute of every day.)
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|14 || ||State Football Titles || ||4 |
|1960 1962 1963 1976 1977 1985 1986 1987 1989 1990 1993 1995 2005 2006 || ||State Title Years || ||1960 1963 1966 1967 |
|22 || ||State Finals || ||11 |
|36 || ||Region Championships || ||15 |
|8 || ||Dome Games || ||2 |
|44 (1989-91) || ||Longest winning streak || ||14 (1986) |
| ||LC-WW Series: |
|52 (1979, 52-7 at L) || ||Most points scored || ||55 (2001, 55-14 at WW) |
|45 (1979, 52-7 at L) || ||Biggest winning margin || ||47 (1953, 47-0 at L) |
|11 || ||Shutouts of opp || ||17 |
|10 (1976-1985) || ||Consecutive wins || ||9 (1922-1946) |
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In 1987, Mr. Skeet Willingham put together a well-written history of Washington football entitled "Tigers: A Pictorial History of Washington Football." The following is based on excerpts from this outstanding book.
- Football in Washington may have started as early as 1914, but a 1915 editorial in the Washington Reporter said "The game should not be allowed in high schools at all."
- The Washington High football team was once known as the "Bearcats", as were the early versions of our Red Devils. The Lincolnton success dates back to 1922 when Tutt Dunaway's first squad went 6-2-1.
- For the 1922 season, Washington needed "a big, dominating lineman to team with 200-pound Henry Walton at guard. Rev. [Homer] Grice had to look no further than Lincolnton where a young man named Lucius Groves lived. Groves, nicknamed 'Tiny,' was a mountain of a growing boy standing about 6'4" and weighing over 210 pounds. Conveniently, for Rev. Grice's purposes, he was an experienced football player and a cousin of Washington star Tom Nash. Arrangements were made for Groves to board with the Nash family and to enroll in the high school. A fine season was almost assured." The author said that, back then, "recruiting was not an illegal nor even unethical activity."
- "A game with Lincolnton on the Tuesday afternoon following [W-W's] Waynesboro victory marked the first meeting with the squad from 'just down the road.' This was Lincolnton's first year of football but their coach, Tutt Dunaway, had them well prepared indeed and, instead of an easy victory as Washington expected, the game was described by the local newspaper as, ' ... a hectic affray staged at Lincolnton last Tuesday. Washington and Lincolnton High School teams clash in four rounds of splendid football, which resulted in a dogfall of 7-7.' " The game was played "before a crowd of several hundred spectators."
- Lincolnton and Washington met a second time in 1922, with this contest scheduled for Thanksgiving afternoon. "As could be expected, the rivalry was already beginning and over 800 fans lined the field at the East Georgia Fairgrounds [present field location in Washington]. When the referees chosen for the game did not show up, Coaches Grice and Dunaway assumed those duties as well. Though holding things in order on the field, the activities of the spectators could not be controlled and, because of unruly fan behavior, the two teams would not reinstitute playing each other until 1939."
- In 1925, Lincolnton finished their season at 8-0-1 while outscoring opponents 183-7. Washington ended at 7-1-2 and outpointed their opposition 178-38. "Lincolnton ... challenged the [Washington] Bearcats to a playoff game, calling the championship theirs. Some local citizens saw such a game as a positive move, but the Blue and Gold felt they had nothing to gain by playing a Lincolnton team they believed did not belong in their league."
- The 1939 season "saw the renewal of the Lincolnton rivalry after a hiatus of seventeen years. As in so many of the Tiger-Red Devil encounters, this was a barnburner. Lewis Ware accepted the opening kickoff and returned it all the way for a touchdown and then tossed a pass to W. S. Wolfe for the PAT. Shortly thereafter the defenses got to work and no more scoring occurred for either team, though the game ended with Lincolnton on the Washington nine yard line." Final score was 7-0.
- The Washington-Lincolnton game became a Thanksgiving tradition. The 1942 game saw the dedication of the new field and lighting system and theTiger homecoming. This tradition would end with the creation of the GHSA and its playoff system in 1948.
- Lincolnton finally claimed its first victory over Washington with a 14-12 win in the 1949 season opener.
- he 1950 game in Washington was "a 7-25 drubbing by Lincolnton as 'Dancing Dan' Pitts scored a ninety-yard touchdown on the opening play." [Yes, that Dan Pitts!]
- Washington High became Washington-Wilkes High when Tignall High was consolidated into the main Washington school in 1957. That was also the year that the now-replaced circular game-clock was erected at the Tiger field.
- Washington won state Class B titles in 1960 and 1963, but lost to Lincolnton (Class C champs) in the season opener each year: 25-19 and 13-0.
- We'll jump ahead to 1981, with Butch Brooks coaching the Tigers and Larry Campbell coaching the Devils. Lincoln and Washington-Wilkes were now playing in Region 4-AA. "Excitement abounded as Lincoln County came to Tiger Stadium for the annual battle. Washington-Wilkes had not won since a 14-8 triumph in 1975, and the combined scores since then had been 21-192 in the Red Devils' favor. Coach Brooks had guaranteed that the Tigers would be respectable and that night they were much more. The game was an offensive showcase with the teams combining for 721 total yards. At the end of regulation play the score was knotted 21-all and Eugene Luke's 37-yard field goal try as the clock wound down was only inches wide. Being a region contest, two five-minute over-time periods were mandated to break the tie. Lincoln County scored twice to give a deceptive 21-35 final score. But as Devils' Coach Larry Campbell stated, 'The Tigers are back!'"
- In 1985, "Traditional rival Lincoln County was the Tigers' opening opponent. Tim Wright started W-W scoring with an 81-yard punt return, but with eighteen seconds left in the game Lincoln led 7-14. [IV] Bray then hit Scottie Long with an eight-yard touchdown strike and with the sure foot of Long a tie was inevitable. But Coach Brooks and the Tigers wanted the victory so they set up for the two-point conversion. The Red Devils held and the Tigers lost heart-breakingly 13-14."
- "The  opener was scheduled to be a true test of Tiger mettle as Washington-Wilkes journeyed to Buddy Bufford Field to face the Red Devils of Lincoln County. A rain had fallen and the playing surface was soggy. The stands were packed. The biggest rivalry of the year was upon the Tigers in game number one. As the Tigers were top-ranked in AA so were the Devils in Class A. When the fourth quarter began, the Tigers were staring at a 10-0 deficit. Washington-Wilkes' first score came after a Henry Stephens punt was fumbled at the Lincoln County six and David Walker recovered. David Fanning then scored from the two. A try for the two-point conversion failed and the Tigers still trailed 6-10. Shortly thereafer Jim Bowman intercepted a Lincoln pass at the 38, but W-W could not punch it across. Lincoln, though, also could not move the ball and had to punt from their 13, the Tigers taking over at midfield. Without a timeout and with only six seconds left in the game, Josh Rogers lofted a pass to Edward Drinkard in the end zone for the winning touchdown as the horn sounded. Fans mobbed the field and no extra point was even attempted. But the game was over and the Tigers had won [12-10] -- for the first time over the Red Devils since 1975."
Since 1987, the Devil-Tiger rivalry has been fairly even. Both schools have been consistently ranked in the Top Ten's of the classes they've played in.
Excerpts from Tigers: A Pictorial History of Washington Football, © 1987 by Skeet Willingham & published by Wilkes Publishing Co..
- In 1990, Lincoln trailed 8-0 with 8:00 left. QB Greg Leverett scored on a 16 yard run, with the PAT run tying the game. Darryl Norman then returned a Tiger interception 95 yards with 1:11 left to give the Devils the lead for good.
- In 1991, the Devils scored on an 88-yard opening kickoff return 15 seconds into the game, then held on for a 6-0 win.
- The 1992 17-8 loss to W-W was the first time since 1975 that a Campbell-coached team had lost two straight games in the same season.
- The 1993 8-0 win by the Devils solidified their #1 ranking. W-W was one of the few teams to score on Elbert County in the regular season that year.
- The 1994 10-0 shutout at the paws of the Tigers was the first for Lincoln since 1988, and only the third since 1980.
- The 1996 18-0 shutout was the Devils' worst loss by points since 1975.
- In 1999, a questionable call on a fumble cost the Devils' their last chance at a comeback in a 21-14 loss in TigerTown.
- In 2000, the Tigers won 13-7 in Lincolnton after the LC QB was hurt in the game.
- The 2001 game was delayed a week by the World Trade Center disaster. The Devils jumped out to a 6-0 lead, but the Tigers proved unstoppable as they rolled out 450 yards of offense to win 55-14. The 55 points is the most ever in the history of Lincoln County football. This win was the first time since 1955 that Washington had managed three straight wins.
- After being shutout 22-0 in 2002 due to 7 turnovers, Lincoln County won two straight in 2003 and 2004 by nearly identical 21-8 and 21-9 scores.
- In 2005, W-W was ranked in the Class A Top 5, while Lincoln was unranked and a 27-point underdog. The Devils scored on their first possession before the game went back and forth, tied into the fourth quarter. Brandon Barden scored the second of two TDs with 2:43 left to give LC the final margin.
- And then the ultimate in this or any rivalry - a battle for the state title. The Devil Defense stuffed the Tiger offense, limiting them to 1 first down and only 6 rushing yards in the second half. Devils scored with 36 seconds left in the first half, and then were unstoppable in the second half. Brandon Barden scored the first 3 TDs on short rushing plays, and Rontae Norman added the last on a 11-yard run. Over 7,000 persons watched the biggest event in Lincolnton history.
- 2006 saw a classic battle between the TIgers and Devils. Four turnovers kept the Devils out of the endzone, while the Tigers capitalized on a bad punt snap for good field position and a 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Devils led in yards 257-102 and most other offensive stats, but the Devils were killed by turnovers, all inside the Tiger 30, including at the 1 into the endzone.
- The game returned to Tiger Stadium in 2007, but kickoff was delayed from Friday night to Saturday at 2:00 due to lightning. The number 32 was the key for the day, as the Devils whipped the Tigers 32-0, including a 32-yard TD run, a 32-yard TD pass, and another 32-yard pass that setup a touchdown. And the win tied the series at 32-32-6! The win put Larry Campbell as 4th alone on the national all-time high school football win list at 406.
- In 2008, the teams met on a rainy night in Lincolnton. The Devils won 14-6 after trailing the Tigers 6-0 in the second quarter. The win gave the Devils the all-time series lead for the first time ever, 33-32-6.