High school football in Georgia is among the best in the nation. That's partly because for years the Georgia High School Association allowed four weeks of spring football practice. In many states spring practice wasn't permitted at all.
Do the math. A young man who played football four years of high school received a total of 16 additional weeks of instruction. He actually got another whole season of practice.
However, because of a variety of circumstances the Georgia High School Association changed that to only two weeks several years ago. That was a compromise. The association had decided that there would be no more spring practice for football. Many coaches, especially in small schools, would prefer to have no spring practice. They say they don't get as much benefit because many of their players are involved in other sports, which prohibits them from participating.
It does seem like an awful lot of trouble when you think about the planning, issuing equipment, then having to quit about the time you get in a good routine.
I have to admit that in recent years, I grew to feel that maybe it wasn't worth the effort; however, this year, at least at Thomson High school, spring practice is of utmost importance. The Milan Turner era has begun, and he has a lot of work to do during these two weeks. He has to evaluate the talent. He has to lay the foundation for his offensive and defensive schemes and get to know the staff he has hired, most of whom he has never worked with before. He will have to develop a cohesive working relationship.
I got to know Turner over the phone during the month before he was hired. I became convinced that he would be a great fit for our community, and as I've gotten to know him even better, I feel even better about the man who will now lead the Bulldogs. I know he has assembled a great group of men to continue to give our county the football program it expects. I expect great things. Even though time is short, he is offering us an opportunity to see two previews of the 2011 edition of the Thomson Bulldogs.
On Saturday at 10 a.m. there will be a scrimmage at the Brickyard. The only admission charge is a request for canned goods that will be donated to the local Manna. This will be a controlled scrimmage, with plays scripted by the coaches, and it will give the players a chance to show their improvement from last year in addition to what they have learned during the first few days of practice.
Then, on May 14, there will be a spring game. Again, there is no admission, but you can help the athletic program by purchasing a barbecue chicken plate for $7 from Booster Club members. Game time is again 10 a.m. at the Brickyard.
I don't think the coaching staff or we as fans will expect a polished product after such a short period. Spring practice isn't what it used to be, but Turner and his staff will be able to see who can and who can't and who will and who won't as they evaluate the talent they have to work with. See you at the scrimmages. Go Dogs!
John Barnett has played, observed and coached Thomson athletics for 45 years. Contact him at B122792@comcast.net.