In the past 50 years, Ray Lamb has seen a lot of high school and college football.
Such is especially true in Georgia, where Coach Lamb coached high school football for 32 years.
Coach Lamb, as he still is referred, now serves as the director of high school relations for the University of Georgia Bulldogs. He was guest speaker at the Thomson Rotary Club luncheon at the Thomson Depot last Thursday.
After the meeting, he journeyed to Thomson High School to visit with his old friend, Luther Welsh. Andy Knox, Jr., a former football player at Thomson High, drove Coach Lamb to the school for the visit.
Coach Lamb, one of the most recognizable names in Georgia prep coaching circles, began his coaching career at Warren County High School, leading the Blue Devils to a pair of state championships while in Warrenton during the early 1960s. It was several years before public schools integrated in the Deep South. He later went to Commerce High School outside of Athens, where he won another state football title and coached there for several years.
"I saw my first game at The Brickyard in Thomson back in 1946," recalled Coach Lamb, who is a native of Louisville and Jefferson County, while addressing a large group of local Rotarians.
At the time, the Louisville High School football team, now Jefferson County High School, was playing the Thomson High Bulldogs in a big game, Coach Lamb explained.
"My brother, Sammy was the star player for Louisville, while Dexter Poss was the star player for Thomson," Coach Lamb said.
As it turned out, the Louisville Eagles ended up defeating Thomson 14-0.
"I've always thought of The Brickyard as being one of the best places in Georgia to play a high school football game," he said during a brief interview with The McDuffie Mirror after the meeting. "Thomson is just a special place when it comes to high school football."
Coach Lamb said there have been a lot of changes in the game of football through the years, noting he could remember when players wore leather helmets with no face masks.
Through the years, size and speed have changed the game, "greatly," Coach Lamb said.
"Teams are much faster, bigger and stronger," he added. "It makes for a pretty vicious game."
The use of the hands-on offense "has changed the whole game," Coach Lamb said.
Of all of the changes that have been in football in recent years, the number of offensive formations is what has changed the game the most, he believes.
"I remember the days when we ran the Wishbone offense at Commerce," Coach Lamb said. "It worked well for us back then."
At Thomson High School, it's the Wing-T offense, which has been so successful for the Bulldogs. It was implemented by Coach Welsh when he came here during his first stint as head football coach in 1984. In his first year here, as well as his second season, he helped direct the teams to back-to-back Class AAA state football championships. The same was true in 2002, when the Bulldogs won the Class AAAA state football title, using the Wing-T formation.
Today, a lot of high school and college football teams are turning to the spread offense, where the short passing route has become an integral part of the game, Coach Lamb said.
On the subject of recruiting by the University of Georgia Bulldogs for next season, Coach Lamb said he doesn't know how many new players the Bulldogs will get at this time, but right now 22 players have committed to play at Georgia.
"Georgia is still a great place to recruit," Coach Lamb said.