Thomasville Times Enterprise

November 21, 2013

Thomasville has impressed Lamar’s Stephens

Jamie Wachter

THOMASVILLE — Lamar County is undefeated and ranked No. 1 in Class AA.

But to hear Trojans coach Franklin Stephens tell it, it sounds like Thomasville should be favored when the Bulldogs travel to Lamar County for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff Friday in the second round of the playoffs.

“They are a very, very good football team and they are not to be underestimated,’ Stephens said. “I think they are a team that has progressively gotten better throughout the year. I think that is a tribute to the job that coach (Leroy) Ryals and his staff have done.”

One area where 8-3 Thomasville has impressed Stephens, who is in his second year at Lamar County and has the Trojans 11-0, is with its balanced offense.

Led by senior running back Mario Cherry, Thomasville has rushed for 2,000 yards as a team. Cherry has a team-best 1,389 and 18 touchdowns on 225 carries. He twice has topped 200 yards in a game, including 245 last week against Westside-Augusta. Vantez Gordon added 125 yards against the Patriots.

But Thomasville’s offense has proven adept through the air as well. Senior quarterback Payton Dixon has completed 53.5 percent of his passes for 1,163 yards and 14 touchdowns.

“They have some offensive weapons,” Stephens said. “Everybody knows abotu Cherry but I think the quarterback is playing really well right now. He’s doing a good job of managing the game for them, making the throws he has to make. And when he has the opportunity to pull the ball and run, he does a good job with that.

“He throws a catchable ball and those receivers, they do a fabulous job of catching the ball and picking up yards after the catch. Right now, they are clicking on all cylinders from an offensive-perspective.”

See Friday's edition for more details.