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Coach Welsh follows 'Do it until you get it right' philosophy for players

Thomson Head Coach Luther Welsh believes in lots of things when it comes to teaching football. But none more than this: "Do it until you get it right."

During the past few decades, he has uttered those words dozens and dozens of times to teams that he has coached.

For the gridiron is his classroom. And his pupils are his players.

He's patient, yet deliberate in his instruction.

He commands and receives the attention of all around.

The man gets the respect he gets because he knows football. An added ingredient is that he knows how to mold championship-caliber teams.

In two different stints at Thomson High School in past years, Coach Welsh has guided the Bulldogs to three state football championships in two different classifications. During his 51 years of coaching the game, he has mastered the art of teaching players.

It would be hard for anyone to argue that point - especially if you take a long, hard look at his overall winning percentage.

He often shares his philosophy about different aspects of the game with his players.

This season is no exception.

Luther Welsh knows the game of football - forwards, backwards and sideways.

"He's the kind of guy you want coaching your child, if your child plays football," said Jerry Randolph. "The man knows the game through and through."

Randolph, chairman of the McDuffie County Board of Education, said Coach Welsh "is the best all-around prep football coach in the United States. We just don't know how fortunate we are to have a man like Coach Welsh in our school system and coaching football to our kids.

"He's tireless," said Randolph. "He's like the energizer bunny. He actually could probably charge up the energizer bunny."

Randolph believes that one of the things that sets Coach Welsh apart from many prep football coaches is his work ethic.

"He's straightforward and honest," said Randolph. "... He's about tough love and learning from your mistakes. He's a gentleman, but he can be rough when he needs to be. He's a great football coach."

Others in the community agree, wholeheartedly.

Dennis Sanders is among that group.

The two men go back to the days when Coach Welsh was being interviewed by then-principal Bob Smith for the head football coaching position at Thomson High School.

"Coach Welsh has a great football mind," Sanders said. "He knows the game of football far better than I or anyone else I've ever known. I certainly agree with others that we're very lucky and fortunate to have him coaching our football team at Thomson High School."

Aside from serving as district attorney of the six-county Toombs Judicial Circuit, Sanders also is the play-by-play voice of the Thomson High School Bulldogs during the football season on local radio station, WTHO-FM, 101.7.

Sanders remembers the interview process that was conducted by Smith as though it was yesterday. It actually was just prior to the 1984 football season at Thomson High School.

"Coach Welsh was dressed in a coat and tie," said Sanders. "He was quiet and polite, just sitting in a chair, while Bob was attempting to interview him. As for me, I was just sitting there, too - more like observing the interview process since Bob had asked me to."

A few minutes later, the conversation began to take on a life of its on when Smith asks about the type of offense Coach Welsh liked to run, explained Sanders.

"Just like that, Coach Welsh moved towards the edge of his seat and said he liked to run out of the Wing-T and a 5-4 slant on defense," said Sanders. "The more those two men talked about football, the less it sounded like an interview. Instead, it was more like two old football coaches talking with each other."

Sanders pointed out that the more they talked, the more he just watched and listened.

"Coach Welsh really started getting into the conversation," said Sanders. "With his feet flat on the floor, he suddenly leaned forward in the chair and talked to Bob just like he was an old friend."

At that time, the Glenn Hills Spartans of Augusta was one of the elite teams in the region with Thomson High School. Smith asked Coach Welsh, according to Sanders, how he would take that team on.

"'When you've been knocking heads against teams like Valdosta, you're not scared of teams like Glenn Hills,"' Sanders said, quoting Coach Welsh.

Smith later called a referee official in South Georgia and got the scoop on Coach Welsh.

Smith's friend told him, Sanders said, "Welsh gives officials the devil. But when it comes to high school football, there's nobody in the state that knows the game any better than Welsh. It was right then that the Luther era began at Thomson High School."

So what sets Luther Welsh apart from all other great coaches?

Sanders believes he knows the answer.

"He's so intensified and such a dedicated football coach," said Sanders. "Football and his family are his life. I don't know if he would survive without those two things in his life."

Sanders knows too, that Coach Welsh's players "respect him and love him. The real secret to his success on the football field is his intensity and love of the game - his special charisma."

Web posted on Thursday, August 30, 2007

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