THOMASVILLE — Region 1-AA has been a cakewalk so far for Thomasville. The Bulldogs know, however, that won’t be the case tonight.

“The problem when you play Fitzgerald is, you better be fundamentally sound in everything that you do and know how to line up,” Thomasville assistant Tommy Taylor said.

The Bulldogs host the Purple Hurricane today at 7:30 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The clash pits the last two unbeaten teams in region play, with Fitzgerald coming off a thrilling 24-21 win against previously-unbeaten Early County.

“I think they look pretty good,” Thomasville defensive coordinator Lamar Landing said. “They’re very disciplined in what they do. They have a series of plays they like to run, and they give you a bunch of formations.

“The plays they run are the same. They have the trap, they have the sweep, they have the boot and the counter. But they’re going to give you so many different looks. I’m sure they can find one that works.”

Against the Bobcats, the Purple Hurricane jumped out to a 14-0 lead and scored 24 first-half points. Fitzgerald ran for 211 yards and intercepted Early County three times and recovered one fumble.

“Against Early, I think they got a little conservative,” Landing admitted. “They got an early lead, and, they have an offense that if they get a couple of first downs, they’re going to burn half a quarter. I think they felt that if they could keep Early’s offense off the field, which is much more quick-strike capability, that way they could use the clock to their advantage.

“It’s going to be a little bit different with us. Our offense is a grind-it-out offense, also. This game may start at 7:30 p.m. and be over by 8:30 p.m. because of both teams running the football.”

The ground game was the theme in last year’s contest. Only seven passes were attempted, with Fitzgerald rushing for 201 yards, led by Nick Williams’ 102. Thomasville was limited to just 132 on 39 attempts.

According to Thomasville coach Richie Marsh, his rushing attack may find the yards hard to come by for the second year in a row, despite his team churning out more than 500 yards against Mitchell County two weeks ago.

“Defensively, I think they’re just as good as they were last year,” Marsh said. “They’ve got a (Mike) linebacker they really believe is pretty tough. He is, especially, when you run right at him. He is tough.

“Against the run, to me, they’re as good as they were last year.”

Added Thomasville offensive coordinator Matt VerSluis: “They’re awesome. I’ve just got through watching film. Last year, they just out-physicaled us, they beat us at the point of attack and they beat our blocks. I think this year, the offensive line, as a whole, has done a lot better job. We need to do a better job as a backfield.”

That hasn’t been much of a problem lately for the Bulldogs and their array of weapons. They are averaging 294 yards on the ground and feature three running backs with at least 350 yards rushing.

“It’s unreal,” VerSluis said. “The backs are running, but the backs ain’t been running if the offensive line’s not blocking. They’ve been doing an awesome job.”

Thomasville owns an 8-4-2 lead in the series despite losing the last two years. Fitzgerald has won four of the past six meetings with Thomasville since the series resumed in 2000. That has the Bulldogs’ coaching staff bracing for another dogfight with the Purple Hurricane and coach Robby Pruitt.

“No one can predict what coach Pruitt calls on offense, of course they’ve always had an outstanding defense,” Taylor added. “Mike West coached them and he’s done a great job at everywhere he’s ever been.”

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