The Thomson High Junior Varsity Bulldogs will kickoff their 2004 season this Thursday afternoon, Sept. 9, at home against the Washington County Golden Hawks. Game time in The Brickyard will be 5:30 p.m.
First-year Head Coach Chris Hodges is making his return to Thomson with a lot of expectations and hopes for his young squad of Bulldogs. He hopes his team will better the 5-1 record of a year ago.
"It's real exciting to be back in Thomson and on the sidelines, especially in the Brickyard." Coach Hodges said. "The most exciting part of being involved in Thomson football is when you are working on blocking assignments with the offense and the defense makes a tremendous play that you don't see. You know it's a great play because of the reaction from the spectators."
He added, "When the crowd erupts to a play, it just makes the hair on your head stand up."
Hodges said that the newest edition of the junior varsity Bulldogs will be pretty decent on offense and will be improving on defense.
"We have 34 players on our roster that includes 17 ninth graders and 17 sophomores," he noted. "We are pretty thin on both sides of the football."
And injuries aren't helping.
"At the moment, we have three offensive linemen hurt, and if someone else gets hurt on the offense, we will have to move someone from the defense to fill the gap," he said. "The biggest key to our success this year will definitely be to stay healthy. We must remain injury-free to have a chance to be competitive."
The Bulldogs are relying greatly on the performance of three ninth graders that played a major role in Thomson Middle School capturing last season's Super 10 Region Championship. Quarterback Jerell McNair, halfback Kwante Brown and linebacker Roderick Roberts will be forces to be reckoned with in the Bulldog's game plan.
"We are playing a lot of kids this year with little or no game experience," Coach Hodges said. "With a lot of this inexperience, we are coming together greatly as a team. I am very anxious to get into a game situation, and with our game against Washington County this week, we'll see right away what we have."
He said the team is focused on learning from their first game.
"Once we play the Golden Hawks and get them behind us, we'll know a lot more what our strengths and weaknesses are, and what exactly we have to work on," he said.
Hodges said he's keying on the team's defense heading into the first game.
"Going into this week's game with Washington County, our defense is our biggest concern," he said. "The Golden Hawks will run counter plays and traps, and they will definitely be a big test for us. We are very concerned about how our players can adjust to their formations."
The Bulldogs will play their first two games at home, and then they will be on the road for the remainder of the season.
"Our schedule is out of our control, so we are not trying to look at things we cannot control. We are going out there, no matter where the location is, and do our best to win the games," Coach Hodges said.
And he's expecting big things from his team.
"I am especially looking forward to see how our 10th grade class will perform," he said. "These guys have worked hard in the off-season, and they have a lot of potential and talent."
Staff Writer Kristopher Wells contributed to this story.