THOMASVILLE -- Thomas County Central football players Brandon Burns and Frankie Rollins are tuning out the whispers of doubt. They prefer to listen to the roar of support from their fans.

Burns, a senior free safety, and Rollins, a sophomore tight end and defensive lineman, are set to lead Central into a Class AAAA semifinal against Marist in Atlanta's Georgia Dome today at 6 p.m.

The winner will play Statesboro or Tucker for the state championship next week.

"Some people are saying we are going to lose, but there is always a handful like that," Burns said. "We know the majority supports us."

Four buses loaded with Central students are set to leave for the Georgia Dome this afternoon. Many more Yellow Jacket backers are expected to get there by other means.

"It makes a big difference (to have a lot of fans in the Georgia Dome)," Burns said. "It feels like you are back home in your stadium on your field when you can look over and see those Central flags waving and the blue and gold everywhere. It makes a big difference when people support you."

The Yellow Jackets are 5-0 against the War Eagles. All but one of the previous meetings in Atlanta were closely contested, however, including last year's 35-34 overtime thriller that sent Central to the state championship game against Thomson.

Rollins said the experience of playing in last year's tight game in the Georgia Dome will benefit him.

"(The Georgia Dome) took my breath away," he said. "I'll still be nervous about the game, but not about the stadium. We beat Marist last year, and we know they're coming for revenge this time."

Sophomore Rashawn Lovejoy was on the sideline during last year's heartstopper against Marist.

"I couldn't watch when we were losing," he said. "I would look up when I heard the cheers."

Lovejoy, who no longer plays football, is glad the Yellow Jackets and War Eagles will tangle again.

"Playing Marist is about as good as it gets," he said. "It doesn't get more exciting than that. Some kids say we are going to lose, but I think we are going to win."

Rollins admitted to having difficulties focusing on his school work this week.

"My concentration level has been about 60 percent on football," he said. "I'm trying to block (negative talk) out. The game will tell the truth."

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