CALHOUN, Ga. — Watching the Calhoun Yellow Jackets' 21-14 GHSA Class AA semifinal win over Lamar County was a serious shot of deja vu for longtime fans.
Hal Lamb's team, well known for its passing prowess in the spread offense, was forced to rely on a ground game that up until last week had been a complementary piece to a passing game that was well over 3,000 yards. With Lamar County putting six and seven players in coverage, the Jackets adjusted to rush for 250 yards.
Lamb realizes the game was one his team could easily have lost, and now, as his team prepares for Saturday's championship game with Jefferson, the coach sees the good things that came out of it.
"We know we didn't play well, but they had something to do with that," said Lamb, whose team ran the wing-T offense for the first few seasons. "Our offensive philosophy is to take what the defense gives us, but to that point no one had been able to take our passing game away. Fortunately, we've got an offensive line and running back that were up to the challenge.
"I never doubted the fact we could run the ball, but it was nice to see us do it to win in a game that important."
So a team that normally throws anywhere from 30 to 40 passes a game was held to 14 attempts and 64 yards. The sudden change of plans put the pressure square on an offensive line that came into the season as one of the team's question marks and a running back, junior Alex Urbano, who had never experienced such a workload.
"It showed people we can run the ball," said Urbano, who finished with 160 yards and two touchdowns and now has over 1,000 yards rushing on the season. "Our passing game is great, but we can still get it done on the ground."
Time and again a line featuring five new starters from last year's title-winning team -- senior Luke Green, juniors Austin Byrd, Katrova Dew and Nathan Walraven and sophomore Truett Moss -- opened holes for Urbano and quarterback Taylor Lamb (83 yards and a touchdown). Though Saturday's opponent is known for its physical style of play, the Jackets go in feeling better about their overall attack.
"Hopefully what we did last week will give Jefferson something else to think about," Hal Lamb said. "I'm very impressed with the way we were able to get it done last week, and I think we'll have a better game plan this week."
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...