The Thomson High School football team is coming off their best season in two decades, during which they were crowned the Class 2A state champions.
The Bulldogs finished the year 14-1 and 7-0 in region play on their way to another region title.
But that was only the beginning of the accolades for key members of the Bulldogs.
Head Coach Michael Youngblood has been named the Class 2A Coach of the Year, and running back Jontavious Curry was named the Class 2A Offensive Player of the Year, both by Georgia High School Football Daily.
“I’m very appreciative, I’m humble about that,” Youngblood said of the honor he received.
The coach said there are a lot of accolades being handed out right now, and he felt the reason is because of what they do inside of the football program at THS.
“The coaches preparing and the kids playing and putting the preparation together to get us to this point, so that different people can be recognized,” Youngblood said of the behind the scenes effort.
Youngblood said the team has players who have received a variety of awards depending on the publication, but that all of them are simply a testament to hard work from people throughout the program.
“I’m really grateful, but at the same time humble to be able to be in this position and to be able to influence young people on a day-to-day basis,” Youngblood said of his first Coach of the Year win at the state level.
He said his honor wasn’t particularly a shock since the team won the title.
“I guess when you win it all, I mean you’re at the top of the mountain and there’s things that come to the top,” Youngblood said.
Being able to accomplish something that hasn’t been done in two decades was something Youngblood was has pride in.
“I’m glad to be able to take these kids over the past five years when they left middle school and be able to just have an impact on them,” Youngblood said. “It’s nothing different than what they did four or five years ago, it’s just now it’s at a bigger stage.”
As for the expectations might be going into the offseason and into next year, Youngblood said the team knows what it’s like to win now.
“We know the work that it has taken to get us to that point to win,” Youngblood said. “Now, we have to work even harder to stay at the top. That’s the thing that we've got to do a good job of. Now, people want to be able to say they beat the defending state champs.”
The coach said it is harder to stay at the top, than it is to get to the top.
As for personal recognition, the coach said that has never been a goal.
“It has never been anything personal or individual. I realize that this is a team sport. Coach Tiernan, Coach Burns, Coach Lee, Coach Turman, and the rest of our coaches that come in here and work and get stuff. This is some of their award to now,” he said.
Curry was recognized as Offensive Player of the Year after helping the Bulldogs win state and having an incredible year of steady performance for the team.
Curry rushed for 1,508 yards and 23 TDs to go along with 382 receiving yards and three TDs. He also notched 391 kickoff return yards and three TDs.
“I mean I’m honored to be player of the year,” Curry said. “It isn’t nothing big, I’m still humble about it.”
He added that the one goal he wanted to achieve this year was winning state.
“Winning state was more important to me than winning anything else,” Curry said.
Youngblood said Curry growth and increasing maturity from when he was in the eighth grade has been a distance of lightyears.
“I’ll tell anybody this in this profession,” Youngblood said. “No one can say what a kid will be three to four years from where they’re standing, but you can try to work and help develop things about them to make them have good characteristics, good work ethic, and hopefully all of that blossoms into what he’s been able to accomplish.”
Something that stood out about Curry to Youngblood was the playoff run that Curry had and what a key role he played for the Bulldogs.
Youngblood added that Curry has been the same person for him the whole time.
“He’s very quiet. He’s very shy,” Youngblood said of Curry. “When he touches the field, I feel like that’s his outlet.”
Youngblood said Curry glides through practice, but then at game time, goes to a whole different level.
Curry said his goal now is to graduate high school and take his talents to the college level.
Curry was also named to the All-State team for GSHF Daily, and both Marcellus Brigham and Storm Hunt were Honorable Mentions on the All-State team for GHSF Daily.