THOMASVILLE — First it was a game with former Region 1-AA rival Brooks County. Then came the annual Rose City Rumble with Thomas County Central. This week it's the battle for the Syrup Pitcher with Cairo.
It's three straight games of bragging rights for the Thomasville Bulldogs, who aim for their second consecutive win Friday night when they play at the Syrupmakers at West Thomas Stadium.
“It's good, it does put some importance on it and it shows how your kids are going to react. It's one of those where I think it can recreate a playoff-type atmosphere where every week matters,” Thomasville coach Zach Grage said. “There's a lot more riding on it than just going out and playing football. There's bragging rights and all that kind of stuff. Of course, we dropped the ball against Brooks. We were able to get back on the good side with Central.
“If you've got to get up for this game or we've got to motivate you from an external source then you might need to check your blood pressure while you're here. Anytime you play Brooks, Cairo or Central … I think it just prepares you for that three, four, five-week playoff run where every game does matter.”
A week after losing at Brooks County 20-14, Thomasville responded with a resounding 34-7 victory over Central last Friday. It was two different efforts that the Bulldogs put forth in the first two weeks of the season. Grage is hopeful he can see a repeat effort this week of what he saw against the Yellow Jackets.
“We have two different weeks to pull from,” he said. “Are we going to recreate our Brooks week where we were disappointed with how things turned out and didn't put forth our best effort or are we going to recreate our Thomas County Central week where our effort was outstanding? I think it's cool in week three that we already have those two different ends of the spectrum that we're able to put in front of the kids and say, 'You control this based on effort, and we're here to help you facilitate that.'”
The Bulldogs hope to exact revenge on the Syrupmakers after last year's 45-21 Cairo victory. The Syrupmakers enter this week 0-2 with close losses to Fitzgerald and Brooks County.
“They have played two very good teams. We know Brooks personally this year and we know that the road to the Region 1-AA championship is definitely going to go through Fitzgerald,” Grage said.
“It's not going to be a question of effort as far as Cairo's concerned. They're at home, they're going to have Tay (Solomon), their running back is going to be even healthier. He's been nursing an ankle for the past couple of weeks. They're going to get better every single week, too.”