Some former Thomson football standouts will have a familiar host this coming Saturday. One of their former coaches, Rob Ridings, is playing host to the Georgia Military College team for the Golden Isles Bowl in Brunswick.
Five members of the sixth-ranked junior college football team in the country played in The Brickyard just a couple of years ago. Now they will be facing fourth-ranked Coffeyville Community College of Coffeyville, Kan., in the 12,000-seat Glynn County Stadium.
"I think it's a great experience, and it'll be a lot of fun," said Montrell Neal, a 2002 THS graduate and GMC offensive lineman.
The Glynn County School System has been one of the sponsors of the event since its inception. That's where Coach Ridings comes in. After the 2003 season as offensive coordinator at Thomson, he took over the head coaching job at Glynn Academy.
As the school system's representative, Coach Ridings was given the responsibility of playing host to the GMC Bulldogs during their weekend in Brunswick. GMC will practice at Glynn Academy, and Coach Ridings said he's ready.
"This is a big game," he said. "It attracts a lot of people, and there will probably be a lot of college scouts here. So it's big. ‚Ä¶ A lot of the kids that you see at this game will be playing, of course, at the next level, and some of them will be playing on Sundays."
Coach Ridings also said he will be glad to have the opportunity to spend some time with several of his former players. Three other former Thomson coaches - Lee Hutto, Alvin Wright and Josh Veal - are also on his staff.
"It'll be nice to have those guys around. I haven't seen some of those guys in a couple of years," Coach Ridings said. "We're excited about hosting those guys."
On the roster for GMC are names that Thomson fans will remember like the linebacker twins Casper and Jasper Brinkley, offensive lineman Montrell Neal, defensive lineman Willie Williams and running back Antowne "Baby" Johnson.
"We've worked hard, tried to stay close and stay a family. We've tried to help each other out," Neal said of his Thomson teammates.
GMC (8-2) is making its seventh appearance in the 11-year-old Golden Isles Bowl, while Coffeyville (9-2) is playing for the first time. The game is considered one of the junior college national championship caliber games. Coach Ridings said some higher-ranked teams are required to play in games in their home state.
Tickets for the game are $10 and can be purchased by contacting Karen Wright at 478-445-2690 or at the Thomson High School office. Kickoff is 1:30 p.m.
For more information, visit www.goldenislesbowl.com.