Thursday, December 22, 2016

These Are the Glory Days of Lumberjack Football

Growing up in Warren during the 1960s and early 70s, Warren football was always important and was consistently a matter of public discussion, especially during the football season, but to a degree, year round.  It still is.  In fact it has been that way for over 100 years when the history is reviewed.

During this writers time, the glory years were considered the "Mickey O'Quinn era and rightfully so.
There had been great Lumberjack teams prior to O'Quinn's tenure and there had been championship calibur football played, but Coach O'Quinn brought it to another level with his training and coaching style.  The rivalry that developed with his good friend Coach Red Parker in Fordyce, turned statewide attention to Warren's program.  It was big time and big business.  After Coach O'Quinn, Jamie Raper kept the excitement level high as did John Morris McGregor and several other coaches, including Marion Glover and Tommy Arnold.  Lumberjack football was a staple of community pride and a large intangible part of the the character of the people of the city and school district.  Other sports were also important, such as track, basketball and baseball, although it was several years before baseball become a Lumberjack official sport.  Later came softball and soccer.  Now tennis and golf are part of the Lumberjack family and girls sports is a major part of the equation.

As much as I remember the years gone by, and some in the community remember back longer than I do, it has to be acknowledged that the past 17 years are the "glory years" of Lumberjack football.  It began in 1998 when Coach Tommy Arnold, a successful part of the Lumberjack history himself, hired a young fresh kid out of college kid named Bo Hembree to come in and be the offensive coordinator for the Lumberjacks.  He did a very good job and in 2000 was made head coach upon Coach Arnold's decision to stop coaching.  In 2000 the Lumberjacks went 9-3 and made the playoffs.  In 2001 the team went 15-0 and won the first conference championship and first state title.  To the best of my recollection this is the history of the past seventeen years:
2000-9-3, playoffs
2001-15-0, conference and state titles
2002-14-1, conference and state titles
2003-7-4, conference title, playoffs
2004-10-3, playoffs, 6th in state
2005-12-1, conference title, playoffs, 6th in state
2006-13-1, conference title, playoffs, 2nd in state
2007-11-1, conference title, playoffs, 4th in state
2008-9-3, conference title, playoffs, 9th in state
2009-7-5, conference title, playoffs,
2010-6-5, playoffs
2011-7-4-1, playoffs
2012-9-4, conference title, playoffs quarter finals
2013-10-4,conference title, 2nd in state
2014-12-3, conference and state titles
2015-10-2, conference title and playoffs quarter finals
2016-15-0, conference and state titles

So we now have 13 conference championships, four state championships and six state championship game appearances over the past 17 years.  I have to throw in the fact that the 2006 state championship game, which went two overtimes, should be a fifth title if you accept the picture showing that the Lumberjacks were successful on a two point conversion.  But, I digress.

The past seventeen years have been and are the "glory years" of Lumberjack football and we hope the streak continues.  Every year is new and no winning season or championship is assured.  Coach Hembree has enjoyed many outstanding athletes and has been assisted by an array of very qualified coaches over the 17 years.  He, however, has been the one to orchestrate the machine. His ability to put the right kids in the right positions, to train them and develop them and to make them believe they can win has been remarkable.  Add his skill as an offensive play caller and you have the ingredients for success.  It has been a run of championship success like few have experienced.  It has been and remains the "glory years" of Lumberjack Football.  We look forward to it continuing to build!  Without question, the players and coaches have demonstrated that Warren can be a winner.  Our community needs to remember this as we strive to be successful in areas of development and growth.  It takes smarts and it takes work.
Success is never easy or accidental.   

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