Coach Marsh and the Bulldogs count down to the start of the 2016 season

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It has been a long countdown to the start of the 2016 season for the Toombs County Bulldogs and their new head coach. Richie Marsh was offered and accepted the position on December 22, 2015. He arrived on campus early in 2016 and since then he and his Dawgs have been through a variety of challenges- weight lifting, Dawg Wars, spring practice, a spring game, heavy duty conditioning, OTAs, 7-on-7, conditioning week, putting on the pads, a weather shortened spring game and now after all that it is time to open up the season against the East Laurens Falcons on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Booster Stadium. (The Bulldog Pregame Show opens Y-101’s coverage at 7 p.m.

The Bulldogs meet for a picture in the sand pit where they held their Dawg Wars
The Bulldogs meet for a picture in the sand pit where they held their Dawg Wars
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To be a 2016 Dawg you have to be in shape

“I describe this as an awesome group,” coach Marsh said after Monday’s practice. “I love these kids. You got kids that listen and work hard for you and they smile and laugh and they are fun to be around. They are a great group. No matter what their won loss record is, in coaching these are the teams you remember.”

Not every Bulldog who started the journey to the 2016 season will make it to opening night. But, those who did are proud to be there. “He is an awesome coach,” senior lineman Jason Lowe said. “He has been there with us since day one. He has pushed us. Some things we weren’t comfortable with, but, we knew that we weren’t going through the fight alone. He has the same spirit that we do and we are proud of that.”

For seniors like Lowe, Marsh is their third head coach in their Bulldog career. The juniors and seniors they have only tasted victory eight times during this challenging stretch. However, these AA Bulldogs will open up the season facing two teams that are almost in the same position as they are. East Laurens has won seven games in the past three years and has a new, first time head coach (Chris Robinson) and Twiggs, the week two opponent in the Pit, has also won seven games in the past three years. The next four opponents all went 5-5 during the regular season in 2015 with Telfair and Bryan losing in the opening round of the state playoffs and Bacon and Jeff Davis not making the post season.

Last year East Laurens went 4-6 in AA. They won their first four games and then lost six in a row. “They have some speed,” Marsh said of the Falcon offensive skill position players. “They have some kids who can run. The quarterback (Dylan Hall- 6 feet 175 pound senior) is one of those kids. The fullback (Bryce Robinson) is very good. The offensive line has some size and they know who to block. They are well coached and their offense is very salty.”

The Bulldogs are 12-2 against East Laurens. They lost to the Falcons in 1990 (34-14) and in 2009 (20-13). Both games were played at East Dublin.

Coach Marsh will try to become the 5th straight new TCHS coach to win his opener

The last four new Toombs County head football coaches to make their debut have all won their first game in Booster Stadium. In 1992, in a 1-9 season, Mark Stroud won his first game by the slimmest of margins. His Bulldogs nipped Houston County 7-6 in the Pit. In 2008 Shane Williamson was also on the winning side of a one-point victory- 22-21. In 2013 Steve Versprille was a game one winner at home. The Dawgs opened up with a 31-6 Pit victory over Montgomery County.  In 2014 L.M. Guy started his Bulldog career with a 26-21 home win over Johnson in a game broadcast by WSAV-TV

Shane Williamson won his first Toombs County game against East Laurens

 C.J. Scott scored a touchdown on a short run with 2:07 left to tie East Laurens at 21 and then Scott brought down a high snap and put it on the tee allowing Matthew Tanner to boot the game winning PAT to give the Toombs County Bulldogs a 22-21 win, in their Pit, on the night that Shane Williamson made his Bulldog coaching debut.

East Laurens took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter by running both a fumble and an interception in for a touchdown. The Bulldogs scored a second quarter TD on a three-yard run by Demery Hawkins and then Lonzo Skinner returned the second half kickoff 92 yards and Hawkins scored a two-point conversion to put the Bulldogs up 15-14.  Y-101 Story

The Bulldogs lost the last time they played the Falcons

In a game in which both teams emphasized running the football and tailbacks were involved in all the scoring, East Laurens scored two second half touchdowns in a 20-13 win over Toombs County in East Dublin. On their first possession the Bulldogs put together an efficient 16-play, nine minute, 76-yard, drive that ended with 11:47 to play in the second quarter on a three-yard run by tailback Tory Lamb.

East Laurens, which lost a fumble at the Bulldog one-yard line, scored its first touchdown on a 10-yard run by tailback Demetrius Lewis with 3:40 to go in the second quarter. The Falcons broke the 7-7 halftime tie with 4:45 in the third quarter when backup tailback Chris Hudson ran the ball in from 10-yards out to put East Laurens up 14-7. Lewis re-entered the game and ended another Falcon drive with a one-yard with 3:09 to play to give ELHS a 20-7 lead. The Bulldogs scored a late touchdown on a 24-yard pass from tailback C.J. Scott to Javec King. Toombs County tried an onside kick which was recovered by Hudson and East Laurens ran out the clock.  Y-101 Story

Dennard has career best rushing game at East Laurens

The Toombs County Bulldogs ended a three game losing streak and a string of 11 plus quarters without scoring a touchdown by beating East Laurens 28-13 in East Dublin. Kevin Dennard and Demery Hawkins each scored two touchdowns as the Bulldogs wrapped up third place in Region 4. Dennard ran for 268 yards on 24 carries and Hawkins had 140 on 19. Toombs County piled up 483 yards and averaged 7.9 per carry.

Toombs County ended a streak of 143 minutes without scoring a touchdown by putting together a drive that ended when Dennard scored on a 17-yard touchdown run with 3:10 to play in the first quarter that tied the game at seven. Dennard had fumbled on the Bulldogs’ first play from scrimmage that set up East Laurens for a 20-yard scoring drive.

Hawkins ended another Toombs County drive with a three-yard TD run that put the Dawgs up 14-7 with 6:32 to play in the first half. East Laurens scored with thirty seconds remaining in the half on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Savage to Chris Ceephus. The Falcons’ PAT was blocked giving TCHS a 14-13 halftime lead.

Toombs County’s offensive line took control of the game in the second half and enabled Hawkins to score on a 21-yard run with 7:14 to play in the third quarter and Dennard on a 14-yard run with 11:01 to go in the fourth.  Y-101 Story