THOMASVILLE — Fitzgerald has had Thomasville’s number in recent years.

If the Bulldogs can’t reverse that trend Friday night, the Purple Hurricane will have the inside track to a second straight Region 1-AA championship.

Veterans Memorial Stadium will be the site of one of the top games in south Georgia this weekend when the Purple Hurricane play the Thomasville Bulldogs. Both teams are undefeated in region play, with Fitzgerald coming off a thrilling 24-21 win at previously unbeaten Early County. The Purple Hurricane is looking to storm past the Bulldogs for the third straight year.

“It’s always been an exciting game and coach (Mike) West has told me there’s going to be a lot of people from Fitzgerald here, they had a lot over at Early the other night,” longtime Thomasville assistant Tommy Taylor said. “Hopefully, we’re going to have a stadium full of folks and everybody’s going to see, well, I’m sure they’re going to see, a real good ball game, a real, good contest between two good schools.”

Fitzgerald won last year’s game 14-10 and sent Thomasville reeling to four straight losses to end the 2006 campaign. The year before, the Purple Hurricane ousted the Bulldogs 28-0 in the first round of the state playoffs. Taylor is well aware of the challenge that lies in front of his Bulldogs.

“Anytime you play against coach (Robby) Pruitt, who’s won seven state championships, that’s motivation enough because you know you’re going against one of the best coaches in the United States,” Taylor said. “Mike West, his defensive coordinator, is also an excellent coach. It makes it a big challenge for our team. Hopefully, we’re going to be up to the challenge, to be honest with you. We’ve been working hard.”

The Bulldogs have had two weeks to prepare for the Purple Hurricanes, following their 51-21 win against Mitchell County on Oct. 12.

“We’re just treating it like another rivalry game,” Thomasville senior Jermaine Johnson said. “We’re going to come out there and play and do what we do.

“Looks like they’ve got the same ol’ tradition, they’ve got a great head coach and some great players.”

Added junior Dakari Mitchell: “They’re good. We’ve got to win this game to have hope for a region championship.”

A win Friday night and the Bulldogs are in control of their own destiny in the region race with a trip to Randolph-Clay and a home game against Early County left on the schedule.

“You want to get better each week,” Thomasville coach Richie Marsh said. “Hopefully, we’ve been able to do that, and I think offensively, the kids and the coaches have done an unbelievable job. If they can continue on that same path, we’ll be alright.”

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