The Thomson High School Bulldog’s season drew to a close Friday night with a 35-0 playoff loss at Cartersville High School.
“They would have had to play their worst game and we would have had to have played our perfect game,” said Thomson Head Coach Michael Youngblood.
Cartersville opened up quickly in the first quarter and after breaking a long run were on the 1 yard line to set up a short-yardage touchdown on just the fifth play of the game
Thomson’s first drive stalled on a fourth-down conversion attempt that came up short. The Dogs’ defense buckled down and held the Purple Hurricanes and forced a punt, but then the offense punted right back to Cartersville four plays later.
Cartersville’s second score of the night came on a 40-yard touchdown pass with just seconds remaining in the opening quarter. The Hurricanes were up 14-0 at the end of the quarter.
Thomson again was unable to put together a drive and punted back to Cartersville, which strung together their third scoring drive of the night and took a 21-0 lead with 7:41 to play before half.
Cartersville’s passing game found success through the air in the first half as it amassed 144 yards.
Youngblood credits Cartersville’s veteran receivers as he points out they rarely drop passes.
“It was like a vacuum cleaner. They were sucking them up,” he said.
The Thomson pass rush tried to get to the Cartersville quarterback, who sidestepped occasional pressure but finally was sacked by the Bulldogs once.
“We sent pressure all night. It might look like we didn’t send pressure, but we sent pressure all night,” said Youngblood. “We sent four, and five and six people after him and we still couldn’t get to him at times.”
Although Cartersville held a solid lead by the half, Thomson led in first downs — 7 to 5. Cartersville’s 197-yard first half was powered by the passing game. But, in the second half the Purple Hurricanes shifted more to the ground attack. Thomson only converted three first downs in the second half, to Cartersville’s six. With 14 more points tacked on to Cartersville’s lead, scoring was done for the night by the end of the third quarter and the clock ran in the fourth.
Tay Martin led the Bulldogs in rushing with 16 attempts and 65 yards. Dylan Hobbs carried 15 times and picked up 46 yards. Hobbs also had two catches for 9 yards total, but Rodney Lazenby also had two receptions for a 28-yard night.
Youngblood said the playoff teams in the mix were impressive this year — Cartersville, Marist, Sandy Creek, and Blessed Trinity.
“It seems as if nobody had the artillery to deal with those four schools,” Youngblood added.
So, now for Thomson it is a break from school this week and a return to the weight room next Monday. The season is over, and the off season begins.
Youngblood sees Thomson players rising to the level of the Cartersville skills players in the coming seasons.
“We’re going to have skills kids like that probably in a year or so,” he pointed out. “Our skills kids are sophomores. You have to be patient with them.”
Now, the team and coaches will regroup and begin work for next year.
“When you go into the off season you’ve got to go back and look at things you feel like you need to work on. The first thing we’re going to have to do is we are going to have to have it where we can, not change as much personnel on offense, be able to run the things that we would like to run and we’re going to have to become more efficient at throwing the football. We’ve got to find us a couple of receivers that are going to catch it,” he said.
“That’s where we’ve got to get to. And we’ve got to do a tremendous job this off season of not only getting faster and stronger but we’ve got to become so efficient in the passing game that we’re throwing the ball on first down, second down, third down. If we need a fourth-and- four and we need to run a route combination we’ve just got to be comfortable throwing the football.”
“That will help us out offensively because we have been so run heavy the past couple of years and some of that had to do with we have been so young at receiver,” the coach said. “Now I am hoping that playing young guys the past couple of years is going to pay off for the future of us having receivers and skills kids.”
Youngblood wants to lay plans now to improve on this year’s 6-6 record.
“I thought we did a good job with certain things but we’ve got a lot of improvement to do in this off season,” he said.
“This is the group of kids we are going to have and we’ve got to make sure in every situation possible known to man we’ve got to make sure that we can put them in situations to be successful. I think now with two years of growing up, when you put them in those one-on-one situations where they have to make a play, I think now they will be able to make those plays. They have been put in those situations this year and they were put in some of those situations last year. So now, I am thinking all of that will pay off.”