There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it, A.J. Lamar is an extremely competitive individual.

Whether it’s horseshoes or football: If Lamar is playing, he’s playing to win.

And Lamar wins more often than not.

While playing high school football at Cullman, Lamar reached superstar status — earning All-American honors after his senior season.

Lamar’s success didn’t end with his high school career. He went on to play college football at North Alabama, winning three national championships with the Lions in the mid ’90s.

During UNA’s second national title run in ’94, Lamar started at fullback. He rushed for over 1,000 yards during the Lions’ third title run in ‘95, but did not play in the championship game because of a stomach virus.

Lamar was named to UNA’s 50th Anniversary team a few years ago.

There are plenty of highlights on Lamar’s impressive resume. This is a man that’s enjoyed success his entire life.

It seems like success tends to follow Lamar. But in reality, he earned every accomplishment.

After all, success isn’t handed out. There’s a price that has to be paid for everything, including wins, accolades and achievements.

According to Lamar’s high school coaches, he always brought a workman-like attitude to the football field. Those that knew him in college say the same thing.

That’s just Lamar’s personality, which is probably why he’s always been a winner.

Lamar’s track record as a player helped him move up the coaching ranks faster than most. After spending six years as an assistant at Vinemont High, he was promoted to head coach before the start of last season.

Vinemont hasn’t enjoyed tons of success in recent years. The Eagles’ last postseason game was in 2001 — a 45-0 loss at Litchfield.

Barely missing the playoffs on a regular basis, a complacent mentality was starting to develop in Vinemont’s locker room. It was almost as if the Eagles expected something bad to happen in the second half of the 2007 season, causing them to tank out of the region race.

Lamar has changed that mentality in less than two years on the job.

The players started to buy into Lamar’s philosophy last season. But this year, the team has actually started to take on the personality of it’s head coach.

One team. One voice. One vision.

Individuals are no longer welcome in Vinemont’s locker room. All quitters have been banished.

Adversity was once a problem for Vinemont. Well, those days are long gone.

No challenge is too big. No obstacle is unwelcome. These Eagles want to tackle adversity head on.

Vinemont’s football program has a new identity — a persona that reflects Lamar’s winning attitude.

This new identity has helped spark a dramatic turnaround. Friday’s 44-40 upset of J.B. Pennington helped Vinemont clinch its first playoff berth in seven years. Now the Eagles are competing for home-field advantage.

Once again, success has found Lamar. That’s not a coincidence.

His winning attitude helped Vinemont get over the hump. He’s the reason this program has a new identity.

Sure, Lamar will give all the credit to his players, but the coach has had a little to do with it, too.

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