One of the longest prep football rivalries in the Central Savannah River Area takes place in The Brickyard in Thomson this Friday night when the Thomson Bulldogs play host to the Washington-Wilkes Tigers.
The game pits legendary Thomson head coach Luther Welsh against one of his former players and former assistant coaches, Lee Hutto, the head mentor at Washington-Wilkes.
"I'd like to see Lee win nine ball games this year, just not this first game," laughed longtime Thomson defensive coordinator John Barnett. Coach Barnett, like coach Welsh share a long friendship with coach Hutto, who took over the Washington-Wilkes football program last year. He previously had served as football head coach at Warren County High School in neighboring Warrenton.
Coach Hutto grew up in Thomson and played football for the Thomson Bulldogs. He later became an assistant football coach under coach Welsh.
"I predict it's going to be a hard-fought football game," said coach Welsh. "They played us pretty good last year."
The Bulldogs prevailed last season. Thomson won only one other ballgame the remainder of the season and finished with one of the worst records, 2-8 in school history.
It will mark the last time that the teachers/mentors will oppose the pupil/athlete, turned head football coach. For coaches Welsh and Barnett have announced that they will departing from their current respective coaching positions at the end of this season.
"I tell you, what, it's hard to believe that coach Welsh and coach Barnett aren't going to be coaching together after this season at Thomson," said coach Hutto. "Both of those guys are class-acts, good men and good football coaches. I really appreciate everything I ever learned from both of them."