CALHOUN, Ga. -- The past 12 months have been a whirlwind for Taylor Lamb.
A year ago at this time he was finishing his sophomore season at Greer High School in Greenville, S.C., spending most of his time at receiver while being groomed as the program's next quarterback. However, when his father, Bobby Lamb, was fired as head coach at Furman University, what seemed like a clear future became quite cloudy.
All that changed when Bobby Lamb was hired to begin the football program at Mercer University and, wanting his son to be comfortable in a new environment and at the same time continue to progress as an athlete, the natural fit was to let brother Hal be Taylor's coach.
Tonight Taylor Lamb will lead the 13-0 Calhoun Yellow Jackets -- Hal Lamb's Yellow Jackets -- into the GHSA Class AA semifinals against Appling County, another step in what has so far been a dream season for the entire Lamb family.
"I really didn't envision Taylor being able to come here until my brother lost his job," Hal Lamb said. "He did what any good father would do and found the best situation he could for his son. The only way this would happen is if he got the Mercer job, and when he took that job Taylor kind of fell into our laps.
"Since we got him he's worked extremely hard and I'm very pleased with the way he's progressed. The ball gets out of his hand fast, he knows where to go with it and he never gets rattled. There's no doubt in my mind he's got a future in college. He's got the size, the mind and the arm strength."
The season hasn't been without its hitches. In fact, the first half of the season opener with Dalton had many Calhoun fans shaking their heads and more than a few suggested Taylor Lamb was only the starting quarterback because he was family. Critics are hard to find these days after the strong-armed 6-foot-2 quarterback has thrown for 37 touchdowns and more than 3,000 yards with only seven interceptions. He's even added seven rushing scores.
That success is hardly a surprise to one of Taylor's biggest fans, senior receiver -- and cousin -- Ben Lamb, who had played more than a few backyard games with his new quarterback.
"I just knew what kind of player he was and that he had the background, with his dad having played quarterback, to be successful," said Ben Lamb, who has caught 63 passes for 11 touchdowns and more than 900 yards. "Our offense is really clicking right now, and if we execute like we have been I don't really think we can be stopped.
"The difference is unbelievable since that first game. We didn't have all our stuff in at the start of the season because we couldn't overload Taylor with all the information at once. Now he's playing unbelievable. We've had some great quarterbacks here with my brother Trey, Nash [Nance] and Landon [Curtis], and I think Taylor can play with any of them."
The Calhoun spread offense is all about quick throws, which means the quarterback has to make fast, sound decisions. With six reliable targets on the field on any given play, the success of a play resides in the quarterback read, the area where Taylor Lamb has improved the most.
"My confidence has grown a lot since the Dalton game," he said. "The entire offense has gotten better, from the protection up front to the routes the receivers run. Our timing is on and the progressions have gotten easier. I know where to go on every play now."
He also has been versed in Calhoun's recent star-crossed history, which includes three consecutive state-runner-up finishes to Buford. Though no one on the team is overlooking tonight's opponent, there is no understating the fact that a state championship is the goal, and if that happens to go through Buford, even the better.
Though Taylor Lamb hasn't experienced the heartbreak of the three losses, he knows what a title would mean to his teammates and the community.
"I know the history," he says, "and no doubt the goal this year is to give these seniors a championship."
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...