Originally created 09/09/04

Picking a winner is a shot in the dark



It has become the most inexact of sciences. The Kevin Bacon game of connecting movie star-to-movie star has nothing on Friday night football projections in the CSRA.

See Team A beat Team B. See Team B trample highly-regarded Team C. The common opponent theme says Team A should fare very well against Team C.

Uh. No. That sort of thing doesn't work for Augusta prep football in the year 2004.

Teams like Cross Creek, Evans, Jefferson County, Josey and others make a football forecast as reliable as a weatherman's hunt for sunny days this week.

Take Cross Creek beating Jefferson County. The Razorbacks then lose to Josey, who got thumped minus several players in the opener against Glenn Hills. The Razorbacks then regroup to beat a Burke County team that almost knocked off always formidable Lincoln County.

"This season is a bunch of: Go and figure out how that happened everywhere you want to look," Jefferson County coach J.B. Arnold said. "I think this just places more emphasis on a coach now. If you give your team a little bit of an easier week and don't come ready with your best game plan, it is simple what is going to happen. You are going to get your tail beat."

There's also Evans. They lost largely to five turnovers to Jefferson County. The Knights turn around and beat Laney, pegged as one of the finest teams in the area.

"There's all kinds of parity this year," Evans coach Marty Jackson said. "I don't know myself who's going to win these games week-to-week. Every team is going to have one of those Mom-told-me-there-was-going-to-be-days-like-this kind of games. That's when they are going to be vulnerable."

That's the same thing in Thomson. The Bulldogs seem as if they've been on anger-suppression medication this season. Most deemed them the area's best shot at a state title in 2004.

They're lucky to be 3-0 right now. The third-ranked team in Georgia Class AAA has won three games by an average of seven points.

"More so this year than any year I can remember there's no real one or two outstanding football teams anywhere around," Thomson coach Luther Welsh said. "I don't see one in our region. I see all the scores. Nobody is really running over people."

PANTHER PRIDE: The school record for rushing yards at Glascock County is in danger.

"It's only about 800 yards for a season," Glascock County coach Chris Kelley said.

Senior Terrence Thomas is likely to shatter it. Thomas ran for 172 yards and a score in a 26-13 win against Long County. He also totaled 289 all-purpose yards with a 77-yard kick return for a score. The speedy 175-pounder also collected 12 tackles at linebacker.

Thomas missed all of 2003 with a torn ligament in his ankle. He's making up for lost time with 363 rushing yards out of Glascock's Wing-T in 2004.

"The biggest thing for his plays depends on following his pulling guards," Kelley said. "He's a playmaker. If he gets those blocks, all he needs is a crease to make things happen."

MORE ON THOMSON: Welsh believes his team to be a band of underachievers right now. He doesn't see the high state or area rankings lofted on his team.

At least not yet.

"I haven't got the fire lit under them yet," Welsh said. "These young men are capable. They just haven't done it. We need all 11 men on our offense to play together and be consistent."

If not for his defense, the Bulldogs wouldn't have so pretty a record. A 13-12 slide-by against Liberty County at home was an example of the team's woes.

"Offensively, we just aren't playing well at all" Welsh said. "It has nothing to do with no individual coaches we've lost or we do not have. We just don't have the same people that we did last year. We don't have a gamebreaker or a home-run back like a Ricky Hill."

Welsh handed a letter grade of a "C" out right now to his offense.

"We just need to take the ball and drive it down people's throats," Welsh said.

"We don't need the defense to score or pick up any more slack for us. We can do it on our own offensively. We can be alright on that side."

BYRD UPDATE: North Augusta standout C.J. Byrd remains doubtful for this week at home against Dutch Fork.

"He is very questionable right now," North Augusta coach Joe Long said. "He is not going to play at all unless he is a 100 percent. There's just too much to risk."

Long can see the silver line in this cloud.

"Hey, I think this is a great opportunity for our football team," Long said. "It's a chance for our guys them are a team and can win without C.J."

Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or jeff.sentell@augustachronicle.com.