Senior leadership fueled last year's basketball efforts for Thomson boys coach Michael Thomas. Nine of those leaders are gone, along with their 21-7 record, Region 3-AAA championship and state playoff appearance.
But Coach Thomas hopes his new young lineup can play to the level he expects from Thomson basketball. With the relatively inexperienced lineup, he thinks every game on the schedule could present its own set of problems for the team.
"It's hard to predict because we have so many new faces," Coach Thomas said. "...Every team is going to be a challenge for us because right now it's hard to predict how we'll look."
After losing standout players like Dan Ivey, Ivan Eberhart, Terry Hill, James Farmer, Mike Thomas, Rico Murray and Brian Massey, the team's strength this year is, ironically, that there are no true stars.
Coach Thomas said he has a deep bench despite having only four seniors on the roster. Currently there are 10 players in the regular rotation, even though they lack major game experience.
"None of them are really standout-ish, but it doesn't really matter who's in there," Coach Thomas said. "...It's not going to be a matter of them not being able to play. It's just going to be a matter of experience and decision making."
One player Coach Thomas did mention as filling the leadership void on the court is Randy Jones, a 6-2 senior forward. He earned some experience on the court last year, and Coach Thomas said he should provide a spark for this season.
Even with the new faces and new leaders on the court, fans can still expect to see the up-tempo style of play called "Thomson Basketball."
"We're going to try to play the same," Coach Thomas said. "Of course you always make adjustments with who you have as a coach."
Another thing that won't change is the team's goal of winning a state championship. Last year, Crisp County cut that endeavor short in the first round of the state playoffs.
The Bulldogs start their journey with a six-game home stand on Nov. 29 against Elbert County. The boys' team will also participate in a Christmas tournament in Milledgeville on Dec. 21-22 that includes teams such as Westover, Monroe, Tucker and Putnam County.