THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WTXL) — The Thomasville Bulldogs fell in the State Semifinals last year, one win away from playing for a State Championship. It's a feeling they haven't forgotten and one they've grown from heading into this season.
For the Thomasville Bulldogs, the past is the past.
"I guess the ending was disappointing, but when you look at it on the grand scheme of things, I told the kids, 'you still finished as one of the top four teams in the state, you lost to the eventual State Champions, you really had an opportunity to win that game,'" said Zach Grage, the head football coach at Thomasville. "It does leave you with that bad taste in your mouth."
The Bulldogs lost in the AA State Semifinals, but for a team that started the year two-and-four and finished as a Region Champions, there's a lesson to be learned.
"It shows how close we can get and we were just one game away from going to State," said Ronnie Baker, a Thomasville quarterback. "It would have been nice if we would have won, but unfortunately we didn't, so we have to do it again this year."
"We've got the right kids and now we just find out where they fit in the puzzle," Grage said. "I think our effort and everything coming back this year has been fantastic. We just have to get it off paper and put it on the field."
A comeback season led by the leaders from a season ago.
"We have nobody going on the field that hasn't played on a Friday night on the offensive side of the football," said Grage.
Defensively and on special teams, there are some holes to fill but, with a young roster last season now with a year under their belt, the Bulldogs are ready to bite.
"It's a lot of young kids coming up playing," said Jamie Williams, a Thomasville defensive back. "They have to learn the game, they're growing, just like everybody else had to do."
"We got a lot of talent," Baker said. "We had a lot of young guys that were young, they weren't used to it yet, but they're coming into a new season and they'll be more ready to play."
Ready to play, an opportunity they're looking to ride all the way to Atlanta.
"The only play you gotta make is the play you gotta make," said Grage. "That's something we're really trying to focus on. Be ready to make that play when it's your time and get the preparation to be ready for that opportunity." Thomasville opens the 2020 season at rival Brooks County, last year's AA State Runner-up, on September 4.