THOMSON — It’s been a turbulent offseason with significant departures and a little administrative drama, but Thomson is ready to build off its runner-up finish in Class AAAA last year.
“I still think we’ve got a good chance to make it back,” said senior two-way starter Tyrese Jones. “We’ve got to just build up as a team. Some people probably don’t think we can do it again this year. We’ve just got to show them that we can.”
Thomson cruised to a 14-0 record before running into a buzzsaw in reigning state champion Cartersville at the Georgia Dome last December. While Cartersville comes back loaded, the Bulldogs lost seven offensive starters to graduation including all-time Thomson rushing leader Mike Thomas, all four receivers and two anchor linemen.
Thomson also lost its rangy placekicker Dakota Gergen.
“We did lose some very outstanding senior football players, especially on offense we were hard hit,” said coach Rob Ridings.
Starting quarterback Mills Ridings returns as well as prominent rushers Bubba Murray, Tyrek Braswell and Tyler Curry.
To restock its depleted receiving ranks, Ridings will utilize standout defensive backs Christian Tutt, Jacorey Crawford and Tyrese Jones to play both ways, in addition to special teams.
“We’ll use Christian, Jacorey and Tyrese in a lot of ways,” Ridings said. “We’ve got to get the ball in their hands. We’ve asked those guys to push themselves harder than they ever have.
“We’ll tailor everything to what our guys can do. The last couple of years we had been more run-oriented than anything, but we’re asking our DBs to play receivers now so that gives us some weapons on the outside we can get the ball to until our line grows up a little bit.”
Defensively, the Bulldogs return nine starters.
“Those guys have got to carry us until we mature,” Ridings said.
Even with all the turnover and the transfer of dual-threat reserve quarterback Damekus Taylor to Evans, Thomson expects to remain the favorites to contend with Burke County for the Region 3-AAAA title and perhaps earn another crack at Cartersville in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“We’ve got targets on our backs and we’re going to get everybody’s best shot,” Mills Ridings said. “I think we’ll be just fine. Last year we were worried about getting (to the state championship) and this year we want to win it. (Cartersville) didn’t get our best game and if we play them again they’ll definitely get our best shot and full attention.”