Before I get to my thoughts on the 2007 football season, I wish to remind everyone of the Thomson High School Booster Club membership drive. Last week this newspaper commemorated Thomson's first ever-state championship team from 1967. A key component to keeping that great tradition alive is strong community support through the booster group. Folks, do not take that tradition for granted. Do your part by going by Queensborough Bank or looking up Stewart Young or Ralph Starling at the game tomorrow night and chipping in. The athletes would appreciate it.
The Salem Seminoles will invade the Brickyard to open the season against the Bulldogs. Thomson won in Conyers last year 26-3. Salem went on from there to win seven in a row before losing their final two games to finish 7-3. They play under second year head coach Chad Estes. Salem is led by Senior quarterback Terrance Davis, who wears jersey no.1. The Rockdale Citizen newspaper named Davis their area's player of the year last season.
Like Thomson's scrimmage against Screven County, Salem's scrimmage scheduled for last Friday night was not played due to the weather. Unlike Thomson however, Salem was able to make theirs up on Saturday and they beat Newton County 27-8. To learn more about this team you can go to salemseminolesfootball.com on the internet. Try to control yourselves though when you read Thomson spelled with a P. We'll set'em straight tomorrow night.
This year's Thomson team could struggle early in the season. The weather has played havoc with summer practice, and I worry how having to stop and start so much at practice will affect execution. Not having a preseason scrimmage to work out any kinks won't help either.
The key will be to improve during the non-region slate of Salem, Washington-Wilkes and Jefferson County, use a Sept. 20 open date to readjust if necessary before opening region play with crossover games against Hephzibah and Benedictine. Three of the five sub-region games will be played in The Brickyard including the finale against Washington County.
As fans, we must be patient with this young team that is breaking in a new quarterback, Brandon Turman.
Tommy and Christy Brown, yes those of 1967 fame, will be among many Georgia Tech fans traveling to South Bend, Ind., to pull for the Yellow Jackets against Notre Dame this Saturday afternoon. Georgia Tech returns 15 starters from a team that was the ACC runner-up last year. They lost their great receiver Calvin Johnson to the NFL, bad news if you are a Tech fan, and four-year starting quarterback Reggie Ball, good news if you are a Tech fan.
If Georgia Tech can get good quarterback play from Taylor Bennett to go along with their always-solid defense I expect them to again contend for the ACC championship. Of course, they want to beat Notre Dame, but their big early game comes in two weeks at home with Boston College. A win would give the Yellow Jackets a step in the right direction toward the ACC title with the Clemson and Virginia Tech games also in Atlanta.
On paper, the Georgia Bulldogs don't look like a contender for the SEC championship. My biggest concern is the defense where I don't see an established linebacker in sight. It would be mighty nice if Danny Verdun Wheeler were a redshirt senior this year, but oh well. Georgia will have plenty of speed on defense but it will be young speed without much game experience.
Georgia's offensive line is also young excepting for two senior returning starters. I expect new line coach Stacy Searels to whip this group into a competitive force in short order though. Besides the Texas gunslinger Matt Stafford returning at quarterback, Georgia also has three solid tailbacks, a great fullback, and out of 13 scholarship receivers, maybe they can find a couple who will catch the ball.
If I were Coach Mark Richt I would feed the rock early and often to senior tailback Kregg Lumpkin. On May 15, Lumpkin turned 23 years old. He will be a man against boys in many games. I like those odds in college football.
As for the opener Saturday night against Oklahoma State, I expect a track meet. Look for a bunch of points to be scored. If the Bulldogs can survive the early season they are athletic enough to improve. I just hope they avoid any meltdowns like the midseason fiasco of last year.
Either way you shake it, I will be thrilled to be in The Brickyard tomorrow night and in Sanford Stadium Saturday night. Football is the greatest game ever and being a fanatic allows you to be a small part of it. It makes my whole attitude improve when to paraphrase the late Al Ciraldo, toe finally meets leather again.