TCCH and Marist are close on strength

Thomas County Central and Marist couldn't be further apart on the map, but in football terms, these two Class AAAA teams couldn't be closer. Both rate 104 point something on the Georgia Varsity Sports Vent Power Ratings, though TCCH squeezes out second place with 104.96, while Marist must settle for sixth with 104.12.

To add intensity to the rivalry, note that Friday night's game will be a meeting of two teams that last faced each other in the 1997 semifinals. Between 1996 and 1997, they played each other four times with the Jackets winning both semifinal games.

"Maybe that's motivation for them," said TCCHS Head Coach Ed Pilcher. "Those kids weren't there in '97, neither were our kids. It's motivation enough that it's a semifinal game; it really doesn't matter if you play at Marist, in Thomasville, or at the Dome. Maybe they'll use the '97 game as motivation, but that's up to them."

Pilcher will admit that while it's cold, it's nice to practice in mid-December. Most teams, including the one that shares the Rose City with the Jackets are at home wondering what could have been.

"I want to do my Christmas shopping two days before Christmas," says Pilcher. " I told my kids I want to get it done then. That carrot is dangling in front of us still, but it's getting closer and closer."

The Jackets are one of a few teams left in the state that have yet to lose a game. Much of the credit goes to quarterback Eric Walden who has taken over as a senior leader, except, someone forgot to tell him that he's only a junior.

"We'll go up there and play our hardest," says Walden. "I've never stepped on the turf before. It'll take some getting used to, but I'm sure we'll be fine by the end of the 1st quarter."

Pilcher added, "We're going to get our kids there early, about three hours early. They can see what the place looks like and what it feels like. Some of our seniors played in the dome two years ago in the kickoff classic. It's been five years since we've been to a semifinal game. It'll be different than the kickoff classic, but it's different for everyone."

The winner of this game will meet the winner of the Thomson-Shaw game next weekend to decide the Class AAAA championship.

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