WASHINGTON, Ga. - Sometimes, Thomson coach Luther Welsh said, you have to let your players know you mean business. Sometimes, you have to raise your voice.
Welsh found a prime opportunity to do that Friday at Tiger Stadium.
The result for the Bulldogs was another victory.
After Washington-Wilkes pulled to within 12 points in the third quarter, Thomson refocused its energy on its ground game and finished with 303 rushing yards and three field goals from Aaron Johnson to pull away from the Tigers, 28-7.
It was exactly what Welsh wanted to see.
"We definitely had to let them know it was time to get back down to business," said Welsh, whose team improved to 2-0 and should remain the No. 1 team in Class AAAA. "Sometimes, you can't be nice."
The Bulldogs certainly weren't nice to Class AA's third-ranked Tigers. Thomson dominated Washington-Wilkes' defense and shut down its offense.
That was epitomized in the first-half statistics. Thomson gained 186 yards of total offense in the first two periods to build a 13-0 lead.
The Bulldogs made a few mistakes, but Washington-Wilkes couldn't capitalize, recording just 19 total yards on 15 plays.
"Our team could have folded," Tigers coach Ross New said. "But we didn't quit. These kids played hard."
It paid off for the Tigers in the third quarter.
With his team losing 19-0, Washington-Wilkes (1-1) quarterback Jamaal Binns completed five straight passes, including a 13-yard touchdown pass to Herman Wynn, to cut the Bulldogs' lead to 19-7.
Thomson, however, refocused on the next series, as Antwan Johnson, who gained 86 yards on 13 carries - all in the second half - led the Bulldogs on a 14-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a score by quarterback Deon Palmer and took 6:43 off the clock.
"They completed some short passes," Thomson senior linebacker Danny Verdun said. "We mixed up a couple of coverages, and we just weren't lining up right. But (Welsh) knew we were going to put it together. We can't play a perfect game."
The Bulldogs played well enough to impress New, whose team got solid production out of Binns (9-of-14 for 105 yards and a score).
"We knew they were going to be a powerful team," New said. "They're definitely the best ballclub in (Class) AAAA. They're just a great team."
But they're not quite good enough for Verdun.
"We did a lot of good things," he said. "But we could be better. I've seen better. They've seen better. We want to be better."
Reach Josh Katzowitz at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.