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A week of positives and negatives in local sports

Thomson 21 Salem 0, Georgia Tech 33 Notre Dame 3, Georgia 35 Oklahoma State 14.

If you are a local football fan and were not satisfied with last weekend's results, then something is wrong with you. There are always nitpickers that can find something wrong with a team even in a win, but you need to get a job as an ABC or CNN newscaster if you found much to whine about in the season openers.

Only as the season plays out will we see how good Salem, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State really are, but they were on the schedule, and our teams did what they were supposed to do. They came out of the chute ready to go, and for that I'd never be foolish enough to find fault.

I would not be surprised if we see more winning this week. Washington-Wilkes brings a young team to The Brickyard that Warren County steamrolled. Georgia Tech plays host to Samford, a guaranteed victory, and off course Georgia plays South Carolina. The Gamecocks may very well beat Georgia, but if the Bulldogs play as fast and furious as they did last Saturday night, South Carolina better bring its' A game. We'll see.

The bad news from the weekend was that Danny Verdun Wheeler did not make the roster of the Chicago Bears. He was waived on Saturday, and as of Sunday, the Bears had filled all but one of their eight spots on the practice squad. As a rookie free agent on a team that played in the Super Bowl last season, Danny actually did a heck of a job to hang on through the entire preseason. The Bears also drafted a runt linebacker out of Stanford named Mike Okwo that they must see something in, so he had a leg up on Danny. Go figure.

I saw live and in person every game that Danny played in college. I will always contend that Danny was not fortunate enough to play his best position of inside linebacker in college. When he got to Georgia in 2003, the Bulldogs were in dire straits at the strongside linebacker position. Danny crosstrained at all three linebacker spots and became a starter on the outside as a true freshman.

Danny was rewarded as a freshman because he was a hard worker, intelligent and versatile. If he had been redshirted that year, he now would probably be a two-year starting middle linebacker for the Bulldogs and in line to be drafted into the NFL this coming April. Another disadvantage of playing SAM linebacker in a 4-3 defense is on long yardage plays, that player is often removed from the game in favor of an extra defensive back.

A coaching change prior to his junior year didn't help Danny either. Defensive Coordinator and Danny's position coach, Brian Van Gorder, left Georgia for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Van Gorder recognized Danny's talent from high school and appreciated his efforts in college. I'm not sure that Danny enjoyed that same level of appreciation from his coach during his final two seasons.

If Danny doesn't catch on elsewhere in pro football, I am confident that he will be successful in his future endeavors. He is a solid citizen that has been strongly supported by his family. He is a great ambassador for Thomson and will thrive in whatever niche in life he chooses.

Since I wrote the piece on the 1967 Thomson Bulldogs I keep getting many comments and stories. One comes from Mr. Dexter Lovins. Dexter played football for the Swainsboro Tigers and had moved to Thomson in 1967. He says he had to miss the Thomson-Swainsboro game that year because his church was having a revival. After church he rushed out to find out the score and was thrilled to learn that the referees did not show up. He would get to see the game after all on Monday night.

Now Dexter is a good friend of mine, but I'll have to tell you my first thoughts. Dexter Lovins, in his twenties, going to church on a Friday night and missing a football game? I don't know if we have told one that big in this newspaper since I once wrote that Bill Beckum went to work one day!

Just kidding Dexter.

Not kidding Bill.



Web posted on Thursday, September 06, 2007













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