Old ways lead to Lamar’s success on the football field
By Drake Horton, Contributing Writer
It had been over ten years since the Lamar Silver Foxes had been able to call themselves state champions of the 1A division.
The last time to be exact was back on December 4, 2004 when a J.R. Boyd led Lamar team defeated Calhoun Falls 26-0 at Williams-Brice Stadium, wrapping up its third straight 1A state championship.
Fast forward 11 years later and Lamar is once again back on top of the totem pole, defeating C.E. Murray 28-0 for the class 1A, division II state championship.
“We’re blessed,” Lamar head coach Corey Fountain said on winning the state championship. “We stayed healthy and the guys came together, played together especially toward the middle of the season to the end of the season. They did a good job of coming together.”
As it had been for most of the season, Lamar dominated from start to finish running the ball up and down the field all while displaying a championship level defense that recorded a shutout on December 5 at Benedict College in Columbia.
That is old news in a way, however. What is becoming more interesting is how Lamar, being such a small town, has had so much success on the gridiron for so many years especially with so many changes between its last state championship and this one.
Over those 11 years between state championships Lamar has had coaching changes, switched from lower state to upper state and the 1A division split into two, but with all those changes, all those variables, one thing seemed to stay the same. The Silver Foxes were always winning.
But how can a town of just roughly 1,000 citizens always be so competitive – and successful- in football?
According to multiple people around the program, including Fountain, the Silver Foxes benefit from recreational department that most in the area see as second to none.
“I think our recreational department does a great job of instilling, especially fundamentals, competitiveness,” Fountain said on Lamar’s recreational department. “They make football an important part of these kids’ lives at an early age and they understand what it means to compete and to work and reaping the rewards of working hard during the season, the rec department does a great job of that.”
Currently, Lamar’s 10 and under recreational all-star football, which is 16-0, is competing for its own state championship as well and this is not the first time either. Lamar has had at least four teams in the recreational football program compete at the state championship level.
And while there is a history of success relying on a recreational department can be risky. The people involved are volunteers, mostly fathers, who take it as an opportunity to coach their son all while giving their best effort to make everybody on the team better and with that, consistency becomes an issue.
As kids get older the fathers go with their sons and new coaches come in and different methods are taught so there is never a basis on how things are done. That is not necessarily the case in Lamar.
Shot Windham, a permanent fixture in Lamar’s recreational department, has coached some of the best to come through the small town including B.J. Goodson, the current starting linebacker for the Clemson Tigers.
“He coached me when I was a little boy and I’m going to tell you what, he coached us hard, he taught us work ethic, he taught us how to be competitive,” Fountain said on Windham’s impact on the upcoming kids in Lamar that play football. “I’m telling you there are two big things that he instilled in me as a little kid, work ethic, and being competitive and never giving up. He’s still down there coaching these little kids. He’s awesome; I talk to him all the time.”
Goodson, who looks to be a future NFL player, is not the only successful college player to come through Lamar’s recreational program and then play for the Silver Foxes.
Other notable players who have done this are John Abraham, Levon Kirkland, Michael Hamlin and Marshall McFadden. Abraham is a potential future hall of famer.
While four and potentially five when counting Goodson does not seem like a lot, when you begin to put it in comparison with the population of Lamar what is more than impressive that such a small town can keep producing so much talent and have so much success over such a long period of time.
So while most think of places like Columbia, Charleston and Greenville as the places with the most talent in terms of football players just remember that size is not everything.
Lamar may be isolated in the southern region of Darlington County, it may only be 1.2 square miles of town area and the population may barely exceed a 1,000, but when it comes to talent per capita it is not even close. The Silver Foxes are in a league of their own.