Thomson's new football coach has been out in the community enough to know about the high hopes and expectations for his Bulldogs.
Even before playing a scrimmage in front of a raucous atmosphere at Lincoln County two weeks ago, Milan Turner saw the excitement for the start of this season that begins Friday at Washington-Wilkes.
At August's monthly school board meeting, the list of field trips that was unanimously approved included a trip to the state championship. That game won't be played until Dec. 9, after three more board meetings.
The memory of the late Luther Welsh, who won three state titles during an impressive 19 years as a coach that ended last season, is still fresh in people's minds. "I put enough pressure on myself," Turner said. "I'm not concerned with what other people think about me or if I'm a legend or going to be a legend." He's got plenty of other concerns, including getting to know his team and installing a brand new system.
That includes the flex offense, which got positive reviews from senior quarterback Josh Jones and running back Billy Felts.
Turner's responsibilities extend even beyond all of his new coaching duties and introducing himself to the community. As the school's athletic director, he led the search for the school's new softball and baseball coaches. "It's been around the clock," Turner said.
"Fundraising, organizing workouts and spring practices and summer workouts and camps and trying to get in the community and meet with folks."
When official practices started in early August, Turner took his team to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro. His faith is a big part of his life, and it's the central element of his coaching philosophy.
Felts and Jones both talked about the importance of getting closer to God this season, and Turner said the whole team seems to be receptive to his team-centered, Godfirst approach.
The coach holds a devotion at every pregame meal and ends each practice with a prayer and a brief Scripture lesson. "If I ever forget, they'll remind me," Turner said with a laugh.
Even though he's still learning about his team and he knows the transition to his system could be a long process, his goals are the same as those of his ambitious young players.
After winning astate championship and losing in the final game during his six-year stint at Emanuel County Institute, Turner doesn't want to settle for anything less than the top.
"To win the championship, that's our goal every year," he said. "It's what we're striving for. We're going to win one game at a time and hopefully play 15."