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Welsh wins No. 300; Community celebration planned for Friday night

Luther Welsh further solidified his legendary coaching status Friday night on the road at Washington-Wilkes. The 40-16 win over the Tigers was Coach Welsh's 300th as a high school head coach.

Only seven other high school coaches in Georgia have reached the 300 mark. Of those, only Robert Davis of Westside-Macon and Larry Campbell of Lincoln County are still coaching.

Coach Welsh needs only three more wins to be alone in sixth place on Georgia's all-time win list. Even though he freely admits that he doesn't keep up with records, Coach Welsh was able to put this milestone into historical perspective.

"Being in it as long as I have, when I go back and think about it, it puts you in a class with outstanding coaches. I had no idea I would ever be in that kind of group," he said. "...I'm just proud that I lived long enough and had outstanding ball players throughout the years that caused it to happen."

Former players and the rest of the community will have a chance to honor Coach Welsh's 300th win with a post-game celebration Friday night at The Brickyard.

Coach Welsh's wife, Anne, called her husband and Defensive Coordinator John Barnett the "dynamic duo." She was also proud of the company her husband is in due to his coaching record.

"It kind of puts him in a higher spot," Mrs. Welsh said.

Coach Barnett, who has served as defensive coordinator for Coach Welsh's entire stint at Thomson, was ecstatic after the Bulldogs' comeback victory. He said he was glad to pair with Welsh for their 150 wins at Thomson in less than 15 seasons.

"I'm thrilled to be a part of that," said Coach Barnett, who also earned his 194th victory in 22 total years as an assistant coach.

Some of Coach Welsh's former players also passed along their thoughts and well wishes after learning of his milestone win.

"Congratulations to Coach Welsh," said Georgia senior linebacker Danny Verdun Wheeler, who was part of Thomson's 2002 state championship team. "We're praying for you. We're proud of you. I just think it's well-deserved, well-timed."

"I knew he was going to go in and have a good hard-fought game," said South Carolina linebacker Jasper Brinkley, also a part of the 2002 state championship team. "I just wish him good luck throughout the rest of the season."

Following Georgia's win over South Carolina on Saturday, UGA Coach Mark Richt also passed along congratulations to Coach Welsh. He said having three quality former Thomson players on the field during that game were a tribute to the program Coach Welsh has built.

Along with former players, the ones fighting for him on the field this season also had great things to say about their skipper.

"It's just another stepping stone," said junior offensive lineman Bob Brunson. "He ain't through. He's got some more milestones to reach."

Bob's older brother, Billy, also played offensive line for Thomson until he graduated in 2005.

He now serves as an equipment manager for the UGA football team.

"I've got nothing but love for Coach Welsh and all that he does for you," Billy Brunson said. "There's nobody in the world that you'd rather play for than him. It's exciting to be a part of what he's been able to accomplish."

Web posted on Thursday, September 14, 2006

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