Thomson High School has produced many fine athletes who have gone on to college careers. I’m proud of that.
We’ve also had several, especially in the last few years, enter coaching and teaching, against my advice.
I tell them there are easier ways to make a living and that, if done with the dedication necessary for success, the hours and pressure of coaching are brutal. Still, when a young man has a true love for the game and for kids, they should follow their heart.
One former Thomson Bulldog has never quit being a Bulldog. David Blanchard left Thomson for South Carolina State in 1989 for their version of the Bulldogs and has stayed in Orangeburg, first as a player and since 1994 as an assistant football coach.
Blanchard’s first season at Thomson High in 1985 saw him star on the JV team and get promoted to the varsity at the end of the season. As an offensive tackle, he received a true baptism under fire when he had to scrimmage against a very stingy state champion Thomson High defense, led by the likes of Jerry Winfrey and Lonnie Harris.
Blanchard recalls fondly how a relatively young Luther Welsh, then still in his 50s, would get under the blocking chute to demonstrate for the players and come away, often, bleeding from the hands and forehead. The next three years saw Blanchard as a starter at offensive tackle for the Bulldogs as they rebuilt into another powerful team in 1988.
Unfortunately, while the Bulldogs again won the region championship game, their run toward another state title came to a halt against eventual state champion Thomasville.
Blanchard was named to the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s AAA all-state team and played for another legend, Tommy Perdue, the coach of R.E. Lee High School in Thomaston, in the Georgia Athletic Coaches North-South All-Star game at Sanford Stadium. His South squad was victorious 16-6. Turning down offers from Georgia Southern, Florida A&M and Valdosta State, Blanchard signed to play for Willie Jeffries at South Carolina State.
After red-shirting his first season, he was a three-year starter for the Bulldogs, making the Mid-Eastern Atlantic all conference team as a center in both his junior and senior seasons in 1992 and 1993. He spent 1994 as a student assistant coach and received his criminal justice degree that year. He has spent the last 17 seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater. He was offensive line coach under Jeffries, and was retained on the staff – a rarity – when Buddy Pough assumed the head coaching position in 2002. Six of Blanchard’s position players have gone on to careers in the NFL.
Under coach Pough, Blanchard served as both defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator until 2008. He was promoted to assistant head coach in 2007 and continues to coach the defensive line. In the past 10 seasons, the Bulldogs have won four conference titles and their record during that time is an impressive 83-33.
Blanchard has had several offers over the years from other schools, but he prefers to stay at South Carolina State. He and his wife, Trevenia, have a daughter, Morgan, 10, and a son, David Jr., 4.
The Thomson Bulldog Nation can be proud of this South Carolina State Bulldog.