Thomson's Brandon Huff started the 2009 football season just the way he wanted -- in a big way.
Huff, a senior running back, scored three touchdowns, including finding himself on the receiving end of a 60-yard scoring pass from junior quarterback Phillip Anderson to help the pave the way for the Bulldogs to defeat the visiting Washington-Wilkes Tigers 28-7 in the season-opener at The Brickyard in Thomson last Friday night.
This Friday night, Thomson (1-0), will travel to play Hart County.
Washington-Wilkes, meanwhile, will host Social Circle.
"I had a pretty good night," said the 18-year-old Huff. "I excelled as fast as I could run. And I think I did pretty well on my blocking assignments, too."
Even the Bulldogs head coach, Luther Welsh, thought Huff had an exceptional night.
"He really got after it," said Welsh. "I was happy to see him run as well as he did. I hope it continues the rest of the season."
Huff broke the 100-yard barrier -- rushing for 112 yards.
Denzel Burley, a senior linebacker, also was happy with his play.
"The coaches prepared us so well for everything they ran," said Burley, a cousin of Casper and Jasper Brinkley, former linebackers at Thomson and the University of South Carolina who now play in the NFL. "We were ready for them."
"We looked all right at times and other times, we didn't look so good," Welsh said. "We've got a lot of youth and inexperienced players. And when you have that problem, you're going to have some mistakes sometimes."
Overall, though, Welsh said he was pleased with his team's performance.
"It's always great when you win," added the legendary head mentor. "The win should help our people. It should help put them in the right frame of mind."
As for the long touchdown pass from Anderson to Huff, Welsh said "That was probably the longest touchdown pass that's ever been thrown by any of the teams I've coached at Thomson."
John Barnett, Thomson's defensive coordinator, was pleased with his unit's play against the Tigers, too.
"We made some mistakes, like crossing the line too soon and things like that, but they're going to get better," Barnett said.
He praised the performances of several defensive players, including Burley, Linwood Few, Jacoby Crawford, Marquavious Jones and Terrance Bradshaw.
"We got after it," said Barnett. "We came up and hit people. We were real aggressive and we kept getting better as the game progressed."
One of the keys to Thomson's win over Washington-Wilkes was that the Bulldogs' defensive unit was able to contain Tigers' running back Eric Scott. A week before the game with Thomson, Scott, in the season opener against Banks County, rushed for 224 yards in the Tigers' win. Thomson allowed Scott just 24 yards on the ground.
"That was one of the big differences, I thought," added Barnett. "We did what we needed to do to keep him from hurting us."
Three of Thomson's touchdowns against Washington-Wilkes came on turnovers. The distances to pay dirt for the Bulldogs on those drives consisted of 12, 19 and 29 yards.
"We took advantage of their mistakes and that's what you're supposed to do," Welsh said.
The game wasn't the kind of game that Washington-Wilkes' new head coach Lee Hutto had envisioned.
"You always want to win, especially coming back to your hometown," Hutto told reporters after the game. "But when you turn the ball over against a good football team you're going to get beat."
It marked the first time that coach Hutto has played against his former prep head coach -- Luther Welsh, whom he also served as an assistant coach under for five years.
"This wasn't the homecoming that we had planned," Hutto said. "We can't turn the ball over three times on the ground and expect to win."
Thomson got on the scoreboard with their first touchdown of the game on a 7-yard run by Huff with 3:27 left in the first quarter. Jay Bieltz kicked his first of four extra points to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead. Anthony "Scooter" Moss, a sophomore free safety, recovered a Tigers' fumble with 2:15 left to give the Bulldogs another scoring opportunity from their opponents' 19. From there, Huff ran into the end zone on the first play from the line of scrimmage. Bieltz added the extra point, which increased Thomson's lead to 14-0.
With 1:15 left in the first half, Washington-Wilkes' Akeimos Coleman intercepted Anderson and ran into the end zone for the Tigers' only score of the game. Tom Saggus' extra point made it a 14-7 to end the half.
In the third quarter, Thomson's Huff scored on what turned out to be a 60-yard touchdown pass from Anderson. The ball was nearly picked off by the Tigers' Eric Scott. It went through his hands and into the waiting hands of Huff, who quickly scampered into the end zone. With Bieltz's extra point, the Bulldogs led 21-7.
Thomson's last touchdown of the game came in the fourth quarter on a 12-yard run by junior running back Dontavis "Juicy" Brown, who stretched to get the football over the line for pay dirt.
View more photos from the Thomson-Washington-Wilkes game at mcduffiemirror.com.