THOMASVILLE — A five-game winning streak has kept the Thomas County Central Yellow Jackets in a first-place tie atop the Region 1-AAAA standings heading into their second bye week of the season.
While Central deserves to be in a celebratory mood following a 36-6 drubbing against Westover last week, the Yellow Jackets remain focused and driven, especially with the toughest part of their regular schedule looming.
“We're a little banged up right now, but we'll get some guys healthy,” said head coach Ashley Henderson. “(The bye week) really hits at a good time for us. Soon as we get those guys back, we'll be back in full tilt when we play next Friday. That'll be good.
“The region games all count the same. Every game in the region's important but some have got more name recognition than others. Obviously, the next three are the biggest ones. The first one's Cairo, and that's a rivalry game for us and for them. There's a lot at stake. They're 1-1 in the region and we've got to try to keep pace ahead of them.
“All three of them are on the road, too. We're going to have to travel well.”
Following this week's open date, Central will close the regular season at Cairo on Oct. 22; at Bainbridge on Oct. 29 and at Dougherty on Nov. 5.
All three opponents are a combined 11-7 and 4-2 in region play. Bainbridge is 2-0 and tied with Central atop the region standings. Dougherty is off to a 5-1 start with its only loss a 45-14 decision at Bainbridge last week.
But Henderson has a confident group of Yellow Jackets heading into the home stretch of the season. It's a confidence that's been building since the Godby (Fla.) game, says Henderson.
“I think the most exciting thing as a coaching staff is we get better every week,” Henderson said. “We have gotten better every week. We have had guys miss some time due to injuries, and other guys have stepped in. We've won with other guys in there. Guys are wearing different hats right now, playing a lot of different positions. We're playing a lot of different people.
“You can tell a kid to go be confident all you want, but that's nothing you can actually give them. They've got to go earn that confidence. Our guys have been able to do that.”