THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WTXL) — It's the second round of the postseason for high school football teams in Georgia.
Thomasville is hungry after falling in the state semifinals last season, but while they remember the past, they're not letting it shape their future.
"A lot of our talk all throughout the season, but more specifically in this playoff run, has been about how we respect ourselves, how we respect this game and how we respect our opponent, which we feel like our opponent is us," said head coach Zach Grage.
The approach has been simple for the Bulldogs this season: Don't stand in the way of your own success.
"Every time we go out, we play Thomasville, there's no opponent, we're paying ourselves," said senior quarterback Ronnie Baker. "We know who we're playing. We're going to prepare for Dodge [County.] So we're going to go out and play good, play our type of football, which is fast and physical."
This year's team has taken a different approach in the way they've prepared themselves for another possible deep playoff run. Rather than correct previous years' mistakes, they've opted for a fresh start that has paid dividends week in and week out.
"This group, more than any, doesn't care about the past," said Grage. "They've done a really good job of buying into now, and this is the smallest senior class I've had since I've been here, only 14 young men strong."
As small as their senior class may be, the leadership from the 14 student-athletes is resounding, built on years of waiting for their chance to write their names in the Thomasville record books.
"Well, we lay it all out on the line for each other," said Baker. "We all know what we're here to play for. We all have one goal and one mission: Win the last one, so we have to go out there and complete it."
It may have taken longer than the coaching staff wanted for this Thomasville squad to get the most of their roster offers. Sometimes a little bit of patience can make all the difference.
"Sometimes you really have to stick your thumb on a team and make sure they're doing everything exactly how you tell them," said Grage. "Other guys, you can let them talk during pregame. There's a lot of different things that go into the success of a certain team, and it took us a little while to find this group of how we identify ourselves."
Thomasville travels to Dodge County Friday night for their second-round game. The kick-off is at 7:30.