The 2011 Region 3-AAA champion Thomson High School Bulldogs were honored Saturday with a banquet at The Depot.
"We had a great season," former coach Jason Osborn said during the banquet. "I wish it had ended differently, but a 28-4 record isn't anything to shake your head at. I'm very proud of the team and of the coaches, and proud of the community, too, for the support they showed us during the season."
The banquet was catered by Neal's Bar-B-Que of Thomson and put on by the baseball team's booster club.
"We're really proud of these guys," said Bubba Grimaud, the president of the Diamond Dog Booster Club. "They had a great season."
The team seniors were presented with a framed photo collage from the season, and every team member received a Region Champion medal and a jersey signed by their teammates. Abe Cartledge, Nick Rau, Will Tankersley, Dontavious "Juicy" Brown and Phillip Anderson were presented with Region 3-AAA All Region Team certificates. Coaches Osborn and Aaron Hall were also presented with photo collages from the season.
"I had a blast coaching these guys," Osborn said addressing the crowd.
"I had a chance to learn from some of the best coaches in the state, and to coach some of the best players in the state, and I want to thank everyone for that opportunity."
Thomson said goodbye to eight seniors this year, some of whom have already started college.
"I just enrolled at Georgia Southern this Thursday," said Rau. "Right now, I'm thinking of majoring in business."
Nic Wood will also be attending Georgia Southern, where he plans to study exercise science, and hopes to eventually attend medical school.
Tankersley is heading to USC Aiken on a baseball scholarship, where he's thinking of majoring in sports engineering. He'll have good company, as Cartledge will be his roommate. Cartledge also received a full scholarship, and plans to study business management.
Cody Corbitt's heading to Andrew College in August, where he hopes to play ball as a walk-on, while majoring in physical education. Anderson received a scholarship to play ball at Andrew College, and plans to focus on his core classes before deciding on a major.
Brown will also be attending Andrew College, where he hopes to study sports management.
Jesse Usry is planning to attend Valdosta State as a biology major.
For the parents attending the banquet, the moment was bittersweet.
"I'm very excited about what's ahead for him," said JoAnne Hunt, Nick Rau's mother. "I have a lot of memories of this whole group he's leaving behind. These guys have grown up together, right from the time they were 4 or 5 and started playing T-ball, and they've remained best friends throughout the years. As far as him leaving the house, I'm not really doing too great with that, but you have to let them go sometime.
"But Georgia Southern's not too far away, and I will definitely be making some trips to Statesboro."
Tankersley's mom, Carol, was also on hand for the ceremony. "I'm excited they've made it this far," she said, "but it's kind of heartbreaking to see them going their separate ways. It's sad to see them moving away."
Carol Tankersley took a moment to recall some of her favorite moments of her son's high school career.
"Those grand slams he hit in back-to-back games, both this year and last, I will always remember," she said.
Lawson Tankersley, Will's dad, did see one bright side to his son heading to college.
"I'm hoping the grocery bill will go down with Will off at college," he said.