Thomson Defensive Coordinator John Barnett keeps in touch with his former players. When he traveled to Milledgeville to watch six former Thomson Bulldogs play one Saturday, he knocked out six birds with one stone, and he put a smile on those six faces.
No one will argue that Thomson Bulldog fans stick it out to the end with their team. But when a group of players move on to play college ball together, that provides a rare opportunity for fans to see the old Brickyard stars in action again.
And Bulldog fans don't even have to change up the chants for that this year. Several fans have made the trek to watch the Georgia Military College Bulldogs on the gridiron this season because of the six players from Thomson on the roster.
For those six players, seeing familiar faces means that people from home still care.
"It's a good experience because being away from The Brickyard, I wouldn't expect to see people from Thomson come down to see me play," said GMC tailback Ricky Hill. "But I enjoy other people from Thomson coming to see me play. You get that home feeling."
Coach Barnett made the trip as a show of support for his former players. He is proud of the success that they continue to display at GMC, and he thinks they all have the potential to further their football careers.
"We went over just to see them play, and I know it meant a lot to them.¬†They know how hard it is for me to get away during the season," he said.
GMC linebacker Casper Brinkley was glad to see his old coach from the sidelines.
"It lets you know they're still thinking about you," he said. "It helps a lot."
Tammy Kay Brunson went to watch a GMC spring practice scrimmage as well as a regular season game. Having former and current THS offensive linemen Billy and Bob Brunson for sons may have helped in the decision to travel to the game.
"My husband Charles and I, we were kind of having football withdrawal. We just needed some football," she said. "We knew that we had students that played there, and it's just so exciting to follow them because we were at every game of their high school careers."
The play on the field of one Bulldog during a recent GMC game brought back memories for Mrs. Brunson.
"Then of course watching Ricky, it's just like deja vu watching him squirt up and down the field," she said. "He's so slippery."
Mrs. Brunson said she is proud of the former Thomson standouts. She said the Brinkley twins - Jasper and Casper - had been named model cadets and Montrell Neal made the dean's list.
"They're just nice young men, every one of them," Mrs. Brunson said. "We just want to support them because we just think it's great what they're doing."