The Thomson Bulldogs will head into the regular season finale with Butler tomorrow night with one eye on the state playoffs. It won't matter that Thomson may not be entirely focused on the game at hand because they will be the far superior variety of Black and Gold Bulldog on the field. I suspect that Butler will just pretty much go through the motions and get their whippin' over with.
Watching Thomson's 63-0 thrashing of Glenn Hills Friday night was almost enough to make you cry. Just looking at the Spartans "on the hoof" could only make me wonder how a team that appeared to have such a large group of quality athletes could get slaughtered that bad by anyone. Glenn Hills was playing their last game of the season and was obviously in a rush to get their uniforms in mothballs.
Thomson, after an open date, was well prepared. They set the pace with a great opening kickoff return and never let up. Even with the clock running in the fourth quarter under the mercy rule, the junior varsity guys made their share of hay. The Bulldogs deserve a lot of credit for being up for this game while Glenn Hills should be embarrassed.
Since playing great to beat Burke Co. 30-14 on Sept. 9, The Bulldogs have outscored Richmond County and Harlem 227-49 over the last five games. Therein lies the problem: Richmond County and Harlem. Without even having seen anyone else play this season, I feel safe in saying that the overall brand of high school football demonstrated by Richmond County schools is the absolute worst in Georgia, and maybe even the United States.
Though usually outnumbered by Thomson in players, the players on these teams seem to possess a decent level of athletic ability. That leaves it pretty much to poor coaching then doesn't it? Why not call a spade a spade? The Augusta schools never block anybody and their tackling is pathetic. The best thing they do is throw and catch the football - you know, the fun part.
I observed that Cross Creek must now be trying their best to "coach up" their players. I noticed their numbers were way down from two years ago, a sign that some guys hit the road to avoid the discipline and hard work of football. They also had a couple of big lineman that were pretty good players. Their quarterback was also a good one. They did more than just go through the motions in their 34-28 loss to Thomson.
Many call me a pessimist, but I consider myself a realist. The reality of the matter is that this sorry level of competition, unless there's a 2002 level of quality team, just kills Thomson once the state playoffs begin. Unless Butler surprises us, the Bulldogs will begin state competition without having been challenged since that Cross Creek game on Sept. 16. The coaches know it, but there is nothing they can do about it. Geography and region alignments are what they are.
The real issue is that no matter how much Coach Welsh and his staff pound into their players' heads that the playoffs will be a different world, and even when they believe it, experiencing it for real will be the only true way to learn.
When the Bulldogs face teams from parts of the state other than Augusta and hit them in the mouth, they will hit back. Lincoln County, Screven County, Elbert County, Washington-Wilkes, Liberty County and Burke County proved that earlier in the season and Westover proved it last year.
While the Bulldogs deserve credit for playing good football of late, their opponents, to put it mildly, were ducking for cover. I'm not blaming Thomson's coaches or players for this by any means. I'm just hoping that it doesn't bite them in the fanny next week against some school from middle Georgia also rich in football tradition that's already used to having their noses bloodied.