All that Thomson excitement and celebrating is almost two weeks old.
Thomson and Burke County haven’t played since that 21-14 road win for the Bulldogs on Aug. 24.
It was a victory that perhaps proved Thomson was a state title contender in Class AAA and probably meant Burke County had work to do to be state champions again. Since that game, both teams have had time to reflect and focus on the future.
At Thomson, coach Milan Turner recognizes while his program is always a target because of its name, the win against the Bears was an achievement. Maybe it marked Thomson’s return to state title threat status.
“I always believe you have to do something before you can say anything. We can’t rest on what happened in Thomson 10 years ago because that was a different coaching staff – none of those people are here, none of those kids are here,” he said about Thomson’s 2002 state title season. “Other teams have won titles and other teams have emerged as contenders every year.”
The Bulldogs, possibly emerging as contenders themselves this year with their No. 6 rank in Class AAA, play Lakeside on Friday at the Brickyard. Turner’s bunch beat the Panthers 57-39 a year ago during a game that saw a combined 864 offensive yards but five Lakeside turnovers.
But Turner hopes the Burke County win was the sign his program is defined by its strong ground game, keep-them-honest passing attack and rugged, tough defense – a style he compared to the one Alabama has used at the college level. Against the Bears, Thomson rushed for 271 yards, passed for 50 more and didn’t give up a point after the first quarter.
“I’m trying to get us back on the map,” Bulldogs defensive back William Bussey said. “Thomson used to be a powerhouse.”
Burke County dropped from a tie at No. 1 to No. 8 after the loss and then fell one more spot this week to No. 9 in the Class AAAA poll.
Like Thomson, the Bears had two weeks to prepare for their next game, with Burke County at home against Hephzibah on Friday. The Bears are 12-0 all-time against the Rebels including a 55-6 result in 2011. After that game, there are back-to-back dates with Coffee and Statesboro.
Burke County coach Eric Parker hopes the Thomson defeat, the practices and the future games help the younger players build confidence, though he and the rest of the staff do think there’s talent on the roster.
But with some of the 2011 playmakers gone, the challenge is to develop them and give balance – against Thomson, quarterback Donquell Green had 204 offensive yards, either running or throwing on 32 of 50 plays. Other duties included work in the return game.
Looking at these next few weeks, Parker hopes players emerge to assist Green and create a stronger squad.
“This is not the 2011 football team. We lost a lot of firepower,” Parker said. “But I feel good about this team. We’re going to turn into a good football team, but there’s work to do before that happens.”