THOMASVILLE — Three weeks into the Class AA playoffs, the Thomasville Bulldogs are playing their best ball of the season.
The Pepperell Dragons can testify to that following last week’s 58-14 drubbing at the hands of the Bulldogs in the second round of the state playoffs. The win was Thomasville’s sixth straight and eighth in its last nine games. Thomasville coach Zach Grage likes the position his team is in heading into this week’s quarterfinal game at home against Heard County.
“There’s still room for improvement, no doubt,” Grage said, “but I think over the past six weeks or so we’ve improved each week, and last week, I wouldn’t call it peaking but we’re getting to that point where we want to be this time of year.”
The Bulldogs haven’t lost since Oct. 4. But Friday night’s game was as close to a complete of a game that Thomasville has played all year. It overwhelmed Pepperell from start to finish.
“I think offensively we scored on eight out of 10 possessions, including with our young kids,” Grage said. “Defensively, we played extremely well, we stayed away from the big plays for touchdowns that we talked about before that kind of hurt us against Dodge. The thing I was most proud of, our kids played physical. They really bought into the south Georgia vs. North Georgia brand of football.
“I thought we played physical that night live. When I went back to watch it Saturday morning, we really brought the ‘hit’ game to Pepperell and it was awesome.”
Grage said this year’s playoff run is ‘eerily similar’ to 2017 when the Bulldogs won 12 straight before losing in the third round 28-14 to Heard County at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Thomasville. The Bulldogs hope to redeem themselves Friday night with a chance to host the semifinal round the following week.
“We’ve talked about redemption. We have our juniors and seniors that were part of that team two years ago,” Grage said. “We said, ‘Look, here’s your opportunity for redemption.’ We took care of region like we’re supposed to. We’re meeting a lot of our goals, hosting playoff games in front of our community. But now here’s the ultimate goal as far as getting past this round and hosting that semifinal game in front of our town.”