Four Questions with retired coach Ray Lamb
This week, our Four Questions feature is being answered by some of Georgia’s best-known retired coaches. We conclude today with Ray Lamb, who won 249 games over a 32-year career with state championships at Commerce (1981) and Warren County (1965, 1966). His final season on the sidelines was in 1992 at Monroe Area. He was coordinator of high school relations for the University of Georgia from 1993 to 2011. His son Bobby is head coach at Mercer University, and son Hal is head coach at Calhoun.
1. What is the most memorable game you’ve been a part of as a player or coach?“It’s got to be in 1981, when we played Greene County for the state championship. My two boys were playing. Bobby was the quarterback, and Hal was a wide receiver. [Commerce won 28-14.] I can tell you one other game. We played East Rome in 1977. They had Larry Kinnebrew [later of the Cincinnati Bengals]. Sylvester Elkins was the quarterback. Greg Gordon was the tailback. All three signed with Georgia. We ended up tying 13-13 and went into overtime, and [with the score still tied] they went for it on fourth down on their own 30. They had penetration at the time. [Overtime games in those days that remained tied after an extra period were decided by the deepest non-scoring penetration.] We stopped them. That gave us penetration. With about two minutes left, our quarterback Donald Rucker ran a trap, and I said just don’t fumble the ball. He picked up 15 and fumbled. My halfback [Dean Allen] picked it up for a touchdown to go up [20-13]. Our fans ran on the field. We got a penalty. We kickoff to that crowd, and they have the Tutt brothers back there and return it to about the 40. They threw one up and overthrew Willie Wells. They came back with the same play, and Wells made a great catch and then scored on about the last play in overtime. It converted back to the first penetration before they went for it on fourth down. [East Rome got the point for penetration and won 21-20.] Still a heckuva game.” [According to Commerce football historian Jeff Prickett, the final play came with 1 second left on the clock. Kinnebrew gained 23 yards on a screen to the 23, and Elkins hit Wells from there for the game-winner.]
2. Which high school coach would you want your son to play for, and why?“Two come to my mind. Dan Pitts and Mike Hodges would be the ones. I trust anything with those two. I know they do it right. Mike Hodges, I coached with him in high school, and then he coached with me at Commerce for seven years. Dan Pitts is probably one of my best friends in the coaching profession, so we go way back.”
3. What is your pet peeve as a coach or favorite saying/motto?“My philosophy about football is that you’ve got to be hard before you can be anything. You’ve got to create toughness before the X’s and O’s. Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. If you create toughness with your team, then the rest of it is downhill.”
4. Which GHSA policy or high school football rule would you most like to see changed?“This business of practicing football all summer is ridiculous. I coached in small-school systems where kids that are 13, 14 years old, they’re all scared to death when they come from eighth to ninth grade. You get one that’s not, and you’ve got a stud. Most of them are. So you have to convince some of them to stay with football. Now, you tell them they have to practice all summer. Let them do something else. Let him go fishing, be with his family. I guess the game has passed me by, but I really think [the year-round training] is going to be a detriment to kids and football down the road.”
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