The Thomson High School spring sports schedule kicks off this week with tennis, soccer and baseball, and the track team has its first match next week.
The Thomson boys’ soccer team had its first scrimmage Friday against Toombs County and began regular season play Wednesday against Morgan County.
“We’re going to be in great shape,” head coach Zack Tucker said during a recent interview. “We’ve got 10 seniors this year, just like last year. The fact that we have a lot of returning guys and a lot of guys who already know what we want to do puts us weeks ahead of where we were last year at this time. We’re going to challenge for the region title this year. Last year we lost three games by three goals, and I expect us to win those games this year, and that will win us the region title this year.”
“I feel like we’re solid all around,” Tucker said. “On offense I’ve already seen a lot of good kicks and creativity. On defense, we have John Atkins as goalie, plus a couple of freshmen goalies coming in who are a real challenge for that spot. We’re set up for four years of strong goalkeeping with this team.”
The Thomson soccer teams have their first home game Feb. 28. Games will be played at The Brickyard until construction begins again sometime in March.
The girls’ soccer team faces a rebuilding year with a number of young players.
“It’s a young team,” girls soccer head coach Jessica Ruark said. “I have two seniors, two juniors, and the rest are freshmen and sophomores. But the freshmen we have coming in are pretty strong. I’ve got a good group of girls that are willing to learn and they’re doing what I ask them to do. As far as outcomes, I just want us to do better than .500. I’m hoping we end up fourth or even third in the region and get to the region playoffs.”
There will be a number of returning players of note.
“We’ve got Haley Oubre and Brea Boutwell, and they’ll be our captain’s squad this year,” Ruark said. Other returning players of note include sisters Ellen and Ivey Wallace, Maricela Rodriguez, Betty Jones and Dallas Coleman.
The THS track team is trying a new strategy, combining the boys and the girls into one team.
“We expect a lot of good things this year,” said distance coach Miranda Murphy. “We’ve got a lot of runners from the other sports coming and participating in track this year, and that makes for a really well-balanced team. Combining the girls and boys teams into one team is also really helping to develop our teamwork and the camaraderie of our athletes. We’ve got some great kids who are really willing to work hard.”
“I think we’re going to be pretty good,” head coach Alvin Wright said. “We’ve got a few kids coming back who competed well last year. I expect our strength this year will be in the middle distance, the 400, 800 and 1600. They’ve got to get acclimated to what we’re trying to do this year, and we’re working on getting into shape. … We have a couple of kids, Antoine West and Khadija Fanning, who could probably go to the next level right now.”
Thomson begins its track season at Harlem on Feb. 23. All meets will be away again this year.
“I’ve been promised that our track will be fixed up by next year,” coach Wright said. “Then we can start having home meets again.”
Thomson tennis had its first match Tuesday vs. Jefferson County.
“I was very pleased with the amount of turnouts at tryouts,” said tennis coach Kristen Garrett. “More students were interested in playing tennis than last year. We’ve got a full team of 10 girls and nine boys. The majority of players are veterans from last year, but we’ve got several new players that have a lot of potential. The veteran players continued to practice and condition during the off season and have really improved. I hope for the boys and girls to make state again this season and expect the players to stay positive and focused even when they are down. As long as they put forth their best effort and have fun, it does not matter if we win or lose.”
Coach Garrett sees her returning seniors as a strength to this year’s team. “Our senior players, BritnieAnne Campbell, Alan Fowler, Andrew Hyman, and Ben McIntosh, have already stepped up as leaders of the team.”
Thomson will face Hephzibah in a match at Diamond Lakes today at 4 p.m.
The Thomson baseball team is also facing a rebuilding year this season.
“We’re a young team this year,” said head coach Aaron Hall. “Of course, after losing eight seniors, all starters, then you’re going to be starting young. But we’ve got a lot of good kids who have been working hard. I’m real pleased with the effort they’ve put out getting ready for the season.”
The baseball team has been working extra hard to prepare for the season. Anyone driving past Thomson High recently in the evenings has seen the lights on and the team practicing until well after dark.
“We might get out played in some games this year, but I can promise you this,” coach Hall said. “Nobody’s going to out-work us.”
Hall sees a lot of potential in the current group of Diamond Dawgs.
“Our strengths this year will be our pitching staff,” Hall said. “We’ve got a lot of depth in our pitching staff. We don’t have the seven-innings starters we’ve had the last few years, but as far as depth goes, we’ve got a number of guys we can put out there and have confidence they’ll throw strikes. I always tell them, as long as they throw strikes, we’ve got a chance to win. The game of baseball hinges on a lot of little things, but I think we have the ability to have a good season.”
Thomson baseball starts its regular season with a home game vs. Evans on Feb. 21 at 6 p.m.