THOMASVILLE -- The loss of Dontavia Bogan last week created a domino effect for Thomas County Central in Friday's game against Thomasville. Fortunately for the Yellow Jackets, the dominoes fell just right in the 45-24 victory.

While Bogan had to sit out with an ankle injury, junior Chester Hightower was forced to play defensive back full time, instead of splitting time between defensive back and running back.

"He did a pretty good job back there," said Central head coach Ed Pilcher. "We were pleased. He missed a couple of tackles that he should have made, one was on a long run. But other than that, I thought he did a pretty good job. He got beat on a pass play but recovered well to get back there. He did fine."

Hightower's absence at running back opened the door for sophomore Debrale Smiley, who stepped in and sparked Central's rushing attack with four touchdowns and 124 rushing yards in his first varsity start. Pilcher was extremely excited with Smiley's ability to play the whole game and not get fatigued.

"That's just a big plus for us," added Pilcher. "If we can get the big back in there and he can go the whole game, that gives us a whole lot more flexibility with what we can do offensively and defensively.

"Now we can rotate Chester and BB (Ronandez Gardner) over there. We didn't get to use BB at all on defense either. Maybe when you get Chester and BB over there with Smiley going full time, then it allows you to get some of them other folks playing in critical situations, maybe."

Smiley also provided deceptive speed for a player his size. The sophomore turned the corner of Thomasville's defense on one of his touchdowns, showing tremendous quickness.

"He's got good speed for a big man," said Pilcher.

"He's a really good player," said Tim Cokely, head coach of Colquitt County, the team Central plays Friday night at Mac Tharpe Stadium in Moultrie.

As for Bogan, Pilcher is hopeful his star wide receiver/defensive back will be ready to go Friday night but insists he won't be rushed.

"I sure hope so," said Pilcher.

"We've got a whole season, we're not going to chance it this week either. We've got to make sure he's healthy."

We need him to be at his best when he's out there. We don't need him to be hobbling around."

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