Everyone, it seemed, had an emotional attachment to Thomson's season opener Friday night against the Salem Seminoles.
Anne Welsh, wife of Head Coach Luther Welsh, wanted a win to help celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. Defensive Coordinator John Barnett was hoping for a decent showing from the youngest defense he has started in nearly 20 years.
Coach Welsh just plain wanted a win. Not that he cared about how many, but it would bring him one away from No. 300 as a high school head coach.
They all got what they wanted in the 26-3 win at Evans Memorial Stadium in Conyers.
As usual, Coach Welsh found room for improvement.
"It's just an inconsistency," he said of the offense. "But that's our first ballgame, so you're going to have that. ...It's just part of the game. The more they play, the better they'll get."
Thomson's team speed opened running room for the backfield on offense. And the young defense outperformed even Coach Welsh's expectations in holding a potentially potent Salem offense to a single field goal.
"They played outstanding football for their youth," he said. "In fact they played better than I thought they could play. So that might be a big start for them. They may be better than people think they are."
The first half of the game was mostly defense. The Bulldogs held a 7-0 lead going into the locker room after Hudson scored from the 13-yard line with 10:15 left in the second quarter.
At the start of the second half, the Seminoles thought they had found the answer to Thomson's defense and pushed deep into Bulldog territory. They settled for a 27-yard field goal that would be their only score of the night.
"I was especially pleased after they came down and did get the field goal on us that we came back and played as dominantly as we did," Coach Barnett said.
Rodney Roberts' 52-yard punt return for a touchdown with 2:25 left in the third quarter put Thomson up 13-3. Two more running touchdowns in the fourth quarter and a defensive hold sealed the win for the Bulldogs.
Thomson could have more trouble out of this week's opponent. Rivalries always do that, and the one between the Bulldogs and Washington-Wilkes dates back to 1924.
The Tigers pulled ahead to a 39-37-5 lead in the long-running series with a 10-0 win over the Bulldogs in the Brickyard last year. The win helped set the tone for the Tigers' successful season that saw them post a 12-3 record and come up short in the Single A championship game against Lincoln County.
Washington-Wilkes moved up to AA this season and dismantled former Thomson Assistant Coach Lee Hutto's Warren County Screaming Devils 35-16 in their season opener last Friday. Coach Barnett said the Washington-Wilkes game always lets him know how good Thomson will be.
"The Washington-Wilkes game is always a slugfest," he said before the Bulldogs faced the Tigers last season. "I've always considered it a measuring stick for our team. ...We've won at least 9 games every season that we have beaten them. They always play us hard, and we have to be ready to fight for 48 minutes."
Thomson 26 - Salem 3
Star of the game: Thomson's Fullback LaBrandon Hudson ran for two touchdowns and more than 100 yards on 15 carries.
Play of the game: Rodney Roberts returned a punt 52-yards for a touchdown and a 13-3 Thomson lead with 2:25 left in the third.
Up next: Thomson (1-0) travels to Washington-Wilkes (1-0). Game time is 7:30 p.m. Washington-Wilkes handed Thomson the Dogs' only regular-season loss last year.