Send those lucky charms to Lamar
By By Marty Stamper
Sept. 13, 2001
If it wasn't for bad luck, Lamar wouldn't have much luck at all when it comes to high school football.
Entering the third week of the 2001 season, the Raiders have an all-time record of 117-181-1 since beginning their program in 1971.
Of their first 30 seasons, only six have produced winning years. Even those six weren't always what they might have been.
The top three seasons in Lamar's football history came in back-to-back-to-back winning seasons. And what years they were.
The Raiders went 7-3 in 1981 to start the run. Big wins that fall came against Sylva-Bay Academy (7-0), Winston Academy (28-7), Newton County Academy (47-8), Kemper Academy (13-6), Hattiesburg Prep (46-0), and Clarke Academy (39-6).
But that was just a tuneup.
The 1982 Raiders went 10-2 and played for the Academy A state championship, losing 12-8 to Strider Academy at Lamar in the finals. That's one of Lamar's three trips to the playoffs and the only time the Raiders reached the championship game.
The 82 Raiders beat Clarke (14-6), Sylva-Bay (33-0), Leake (7-3), Wayne (40-0), Winston (34-13), Newton (27-0), Kemper (44-0), Heidelberg Academy (29-0), and Jeff Davis (47-0) in the regular season. They then knocked off Natchez Trinity (33-7) in the playoffs. The losses were to Heritage (15-6) and Strider.
The 1983 Raider team might have been even better, though it wound up with little to show for it. The 83 Raiders allowed only seven points for the entire season in going 9-1. That's 10 games and seven points. That's a heck-of-a defensive team. You'd think a state championship would have been won without any trouble. Again, if it wasn't for bad luck …
A 7-0 loss to Winston in the fifth game kept Lamar out of the playoffs as only one team advanced from the league that year. The Raiders had their chances that night, getting inside the Patriot 1 on two separate occasions only to come away empty.
Winston's only score came on a 7-yard run by Taylor Shurden to cap a 62-yard drive set up by a Randy Jackson interception. Lamar aided Winston with a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the drive. Lamar finished with 182 total yards to 131 for Winston.
The 83 Raiders blanked Clarke (28-0), Sylva-Bay (46-0), Leake (28-0), Wayne (13-0), Newton (49-0), Kemper (40-0), Heritage (6-0), Heidelberg (28-0), and Jeff Davis (47-0). That's impressive.
That's also a 26-6 record from 1981-83, all under the direction of Maurice Carkuff, who posted a 36-26 showing in his six years at Lamar.
Carkuff's 36 wins are the school record as none of the school's other 14 head coaches have won more than a dozen games.
The Raiders enter Friday's contest with defending Academy A state champion Heidelberg Academy 64 games under .500.
Few of their wins have come against Heidelberg as the Rebels hold a commanding 27-3 lead in the series. Amazingly, all three of Lamar's wins in the series have come on shutouts 29-0 in 1982, 28-0 in 1983, and 24-0 in 1998.
The 82 win was indeed special for the Raiders, maybe even the biggest win in school history, as they snapped Heidelberg's 35-game winning streak and dealt the Rebels their first regular-season loss after an incredible streak of 63 consecutive wins dating back to 1976.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 693-1551 ext. 3234.