I never met L.C. Gordon. I was told that he attended our 1984 playoff victory in Cordele, but I wasn't aware of that until it was too late.
It's one of the regrets of my professional career. I didn't meet the man who led our Bulldogs for 14 seasons. He was known by most as "Flash," after the comic book superhero of the day. For many of the young men who played for him in the 1940s and '50s, he was regarded just that way.
He first came to Thomson in 1941, but left for the military during World War II. Oscar Adams led the team in Flash's absence, but Flash returned for the 1944 season and stayed through 1956. His 1944 Bulldogs finished with a perfect 10-0 season, but a state playoff system had not yet been established.
Though he never won a state championship, he led Thomson to the state playoffs several times in an era where only one team per region was allowed to advance.
Flash coached in a different era. For most of his career in Thomson, he was the head coach of all the boys and girls sports: football, basketball, baseball, track and tennis.
According to Sonny Poss, a two-time all-state football player in 1953 and 1954, Gordon made all the game-time football decisions. He called all the offensive plays and defensive sets without the benefit of help from a press box and head sets.
Dewayne Patrick, a retired Army general who was an all-state QB in 1953, described Gordon as a "stickler for detail" whose practices began with a mile run and became "quick, down and dirty." Patrick also credited Gordon with having a knack for developing two or three special plays for each opponent, which could turn a close game into a Bulldog victory. He seemed to know just when to pull off the surprise and this was a huge reason for his success.
Former Sheriff William Swan credits Gordon with using a three-man defensive line, which surprised a senior-laden Washington-Wilkes squad and confused them all night. Swan says this enabled a sophomore-heavy Thomson team to tie a great Tiger team 7-7 in 1952.
Gordon's greatest teams, in addition to the undefeated 1944 Bulldogs, were in 1947, 1951 and 1954. According to thomsonfootball.com, the 1947 team, led by future Georgia Bulldog Dexter Poss, finished with a 10-1 record, losing to Douglas in the playoffs. In 1951, Flash led the Bulldogs to a 10-1-1 record, losing to West Point 19-7 in the semifinals.
Many would say that Gordon's best team was the 1954 Bulldogs which included Sonny Poss, William Swan, QB Bobby Weaver and halfbacks Jerry Smith and Douglas Green. They would finish 11-1, losing to eventual state champion Model 27-20, a game in which Swan, the fullback, would miss most of the second half with a knee injury.
Flash would complete his career in Thomson with a 99-33-12 record. His victory total remains second all-time among Bulldog coaches. He trails only Luther Welsh both in victories and longevity. Gordon would end his head coaching career, according to the Georgia High School Historians Association, after three seasons in Wrightsville, giving him a career record of 118-45-13.
Gordon's memory and the lessons he taught remain dear in the hearts of those many boys he helped develop into men in the '40s and '50s. He is one of several Bulldog coaches to whom this county owes a debt of gratitude.
Thanks Flash, and, as always, Go Dogs!