Football season just days away

Aug. 14, 2013 @ 10:03 AM

Walking from my house to the car last week, a faint beat could be heard off in the distance. An unmistakable beat that brought visions of Friday nights inside Cushwa Stadium.
Yes sir, football season is upon us and the sounds of the percussion section practicing at Thomasville High School served as a reminder that opening night is just a little more than one week away.
Local teams have been hard at work since the official start of practice Aug. 1, fine-tuning offenses, working on defensive schemes and getting special teams units on the same page. But how will all of that preparation translate on the football field? We will know soon enough.
The last time an area team won a state championship was the 2008 season, when the Thomasville Bulldogs soundly defeated East Bladen. They came close again in 2012, making a deep run before eventual champion East Lincoln slammed on the brakes of their title hopes.
With a lot of new faces, the Bulldogs will reload again and take another run at a championship. THS has seen more than 60 players come out for football. The most obvious question mark will be who will take over the reigns as running back. Gone is 3,000-yard rusher Gabe Brockett, but every year the Bulldogs seem to have someone else who steps in and carries on the tradition of quality tailbacks.
One positive in the backfield is signal-caller Ike Marsh returns to play quarterback. Many of the receivers also return, so the Bulldogs could be a bit more balanced in attacking on offense.
And never lose sight of the fact that legendary coach Allen Brown is still calling the shots. A master of the game, Brown has a knack for putting the right players at the right positions. As last year’s tough nonconference schedule showed, it may take a few games, but by conference time the Bulldogs will be a contender.
THS opens at North Davidson.
A few miles away at East Davidson, the Vance Hanner era has officially taken flight. A former player for the Golden Eagles and longtime assistant, Hanner took over the head job when Bryan Lingerfelt moved closer to home to take the West Davidson job.
The change could not have happened at a better time for Hanner. He has 19 seniors who will return, making what has been a youthful East team the last couple of years a veteran one. So far, Hanner is getting solid participation. More than 80 players have taken the practice field, giving a school that has played a lot of players both ways in recent years, some needed depth.
East featured an aerial attack with quarterback Austin Wallace last year, and he will return with more knowledge of the position. The change for him will be the coach in his ear. Hanner moves over to call the offensive plays, leaving Ryan McClamrock to man the defense.
Finishing 3-8 overall in 2012, the Eagles play at South Davidson Week 1.
Residents in Wallburg could be in store for an exciting season of Panther football. Entering his fourth year as head coach, Chris Adams will have his very first class of seniors that he has tutored from the start. Knowing the system well and with many playing key positions, Ledford should be ahead of most when action finally begins.
The Panthers made it to the 3-A state playoffs, but were ousted in the first round by Hickory Ridge. LHS finished 5-7, but those numbers could easily be reversed if the experienced players step up.
Soon, those faint beats will turn to thunderous booms, echoing through football stadiums across the state. Are you ready? I know I am.

Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or