Even though the team still will be known as the Bulldogs, Thomson Middle School has stretched the size of its name to include another school.
Instead of being known simply as the Thomson Middle Bulldogs, the football team and other squads will be known as Thomson Middle/Thomson-McDuffie Junior High School Bulldogs.
"We wanted to do something this year that included both schools, since we draw student- athletes from both schools," said coach and athletic director Aaron Hall.
The Bulldogs also find themselves playing in a new conference: the CSRA Athletic Association, which includes Thomson, Washington-Wilkes, Wrens, Louisville, Glascock County and Georgia Military.
The Bulldogs had played in the Super 10 League, which has been disbanded.
Unlike previous years, the Bulldogs won't be competing against teams such as Warren County, Hancock County, Wilkinson County and Putnam County.
"I think it's going to work out great being in a new league," Hall said. "We won't be playing for any league championship. We'll just be playing and learning the game."
As for the upcoming season, Hall is optimistic.
He's got good reason. He has several skilled players returning from last year's team, which posted a 6-1 winning season.
During the past dozen years, the Bulldogs have put together several impressive seasons. This year looks to be no exception.
"We're going to be pretty good," Hall predicted. "We've got a good many returning players with a lot of experience. We're hoping that's going to help us a lot."
One of the top players being counted on heavily by Hall is eighth-grade quarterback Quay Cummings, a relative of pro basketball player Vonteego Cummings, who graduated from Thomson High School a number of years ago.
"He's intelligent and very talented," Hall said. "He started at free safety and played a little quarterback for us last season. This season, he'll play quarterback."
Cummings, a left-hander, runs and throws well, the second-year coach said.
The Bulldogs have 56 players this season -- down from 64 last season.
"We're down a little in terms of numbers, but I really don't think that will hurt us," Hall said. "Our lack of depth on the offensive and defensive lines may hurt us some, but right now, I think we'll be OK."
The Bulldogs' offense will work out of the Wing-T, just like in years past.
"We're going to mirror the high school team," Hall said. "It's worked real well for us in the past, and we're going to stay with it."
Aside from Cummings, the Bulldogs also are counting on the services of several other players this season. They include: Felton Hatcher, a defensive end, running back and receiver; Ryan Kelley, a defensive back; Darryl Rivers, a linebacker and defensive back; and Randy Neal, a linebacker.
"All of them will be key players for us this season," Hall said.
The coach is pleased to have increased the size of his coaching staff this season, despite having lost one member, Terry Holder, who retired at the end of the last school term.
The Bulldogs' coaching staff will consist of Brett Chalker, running backs; Chris Tutt, defensive line; William Parker, offensive line; and Murtavius Miller, defensive backs.
The Bulldogs' season begins Aug. 29 when they participate in a CSRA Athletic Association Jamboree.
The regular season begins Sept. 2 when they play the Washington-Wilkes Tigers in Washington. Game time is set for 5 p.m.