Football season finally got here last weekend, and I was worn out. I don't know if I was tired from watching the games or just from waiting on the season to arrive. I'm always glad to get the games started so nine months of talk can end in favor of three months of playing. Now, we get concrete answers to the thousands of abstract questions.
Jasper and Casper Brinkley both started for South Carolina against Mississippi State and both appeared to play great. The TV announcers called Jasper's name all night as the Gamecocks pitched a 15-0 shutout. In all honesty, I'm not sure Mississippi State could have scored if the Brinkleys and their defensive sidekicks had left the field. The Maroon Bulldogs were inept on offense.
I felt that the performance by the Thomson Bulldogs against Salem was one of the best turned in by the local guys in quite a while. They played well last year against Washington County, but this was a complete performance from all facets of the team for 48 minutes. As the season plays out, we will see what kind of competition Salem really was, but they are a bigger school than Thomson. On the hoof, the Seminoles looked good.
It's no skin off my back, but it must be discouraging to those involved in Salem football not to have their own stadium. The school opened in 1991 as Rockdale County's third high school and 15 years later, still no stadium to call home. One of their coaches told me that even though they have built the best football program in the county, they still are last in line when it comes to enhanced athletic facilities. Last in line? It doesn't sound like they even have a line.
The Georgia Bulldogs played a gimme' game against Western Kentucky and won easily. As they should, the Bulldogs looked much faster than the Hilltoppers. I've seen a bunch of football games in my life, but never have I seen one start with a punt returned for a touchdown, only to have it negated by the stupid act of the punt returner losing the ball before he crossed the goal line. How did Mikey Henderson make up for this inexcusable boo-boo? He took the next punt the same distance for a touchdown. Was it Yogi Berra that once said, "deja' vu all over again?"
Georgia Tech and Notre Dame played a slobber knocker with the Irish coming out on top. In my opinion the talent on the field was more equal than one might expect. Of course Notre Dame recruits are generally anointed All-American as soon as they sign the scholarship papers. The big key in the game was Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis being smart enough to counter Tech's blitzes with a patient effort of running the ball. More often than not, coaches aren't willing to accept three- and four-yard gains as successful plays when their opponent is bringing the house on defense. Weis' willingness to be satisfied with a close victory paid off.
Late Friday night my wife's cell phone rang, and it was Tonya Morgan, wife of Washington-Wilkes coach Russell Morgan. She wanted to know the score of the Thomson-Salem game. She pretended that the Tigers were sweating bullets against Warren County with a one touchdown lead and the Devils threatening to score. I finally coaxed the truth out of her that the Tigers won by three touchdowns. It's not just the coaches that tend to poor mouth.
Excitement will be in the air Friday night in Tiger Stadium as Thomson faces arch-rival Washington-Wilkes and Coach Luther Welsh goes for career win number 300. The Bulldogs will also be seeking revenge for last year's defeat at the hands of W-W in the Brickyard. If the team takes into account these factors, and more importantly play like they did against Salem, Coach Welsh will be looking for win number 301 next week against Jefferson County.
Saturday night in Columbia, Georgia will play South Carolina and this game may be a first for Thomson football fans. There will be three alumni of Thomson High School playing in this game. We all know about Danny Verdun Wheeler and the Brinkley twins, but the national television audience does not. I'll be there pulling for Georgia, but wouldn't it be great if somehow the game played out so that the Thomson trio could be recognized for their roots. There are a lot of high schools that send multiple recruits to college football, but seldom do you see three from the same school starting in one game, especially a high school with 1,200 students.
Like Georgia did last week, Georgia Tech gets to play their Division 1-AA cupcake this week. Samford University from Birmingham invades Bobby Dodd Stadium at Grant Field. For all the hype and packed house for the Notre Dame game, it will be just the opposite for the Yellow Jackets this week. Tech's schedule makers were smart because if the Jackets don't come out flat for this game, they will have missed a good chance, to be mentally flat I mean. They should easily handle Samford regardless of their mental outlook.