A two-quarter game produced a whole victory for the GMC Prep football team in week one.
The Bulldogs’ (1-0) season opener against Glascock County (0-1) was cut short due to lightning, but not before the home team had put up 21 points to the Panthers’ none.
First-year GMC Prep head coach Lee Coleman said his players’ emotions were mixed when he told them the game had been called. It’s hard to return to the field after an hour-plus break with all the intensity you had before as a player, so some were glad their night was finished. Others were chomping at the bit to get back out there, no matter how long it might take. Regardless of how players felt about a possible resumption of play, the entire group was excited to begin 2019 with the win in front of their home crowd.
Now the ‘Dogs are putting that first result behind them as they prepare for this week’s test at Class AA Oglethorpe County. Coleman says he’s still working to instill that edge into a program that hasn’t produced a winning season since 2011.
“Practices are getting better,” he said. “I ran the guys yesterday and told them we’ve still got to learn how to compete. We’ve got little things we’ve got to clean up and we’ve got to stop competing to be second. We need to compete to be first. I’m just trying to build that winning mentality. You can’t expect to just show up and play well in a game, you’ve got to do it at practice too.”
That winning mentality is something that has been missing for the Oglethorpe County Patriots for quite a while now. Since 2015 they’ve gone just 2-39, a lackluster record that includes a winless 2018 and a season-opening loss last week. The Patriots started this season with a 32-20 loss at Johnson High School of Gainesville, extending a losing streak that began last year to 11 games now. GMC Prep gave the team out of Lexington three of those losses over the last four-plus seasons and will look to add a fourth this week.
Asked if his players are aware of Oglethorpe’s troubles, Coleman said, “Most of them are because our guys beat them pretty good last year. I have to continue to reiterate to my guys that we are a different team from last year. Last year’s GMC team, in my humble opinion, had more athletes than we do this year. Oglethorpe is athletic, so that’s got me kind of uptight. Oglethorpe is going to be faster and a little more physical, so we have to do our job in order to win the ballgame.”
That athleticism is something the Patriots will look to utilize in their run-first spread offense. Coach Coleman and his staff are working on ways to stop that run and force Oglethorpe to put the ball in the air. To that end, he’s also challenging his own athletic group of defensive backs to make plays on those passing attempts to really turn the tide of the ballgame in GMC’s favor.
Offensively, the Bulldogs enjoyed a great deal of success against Glascock last week. After senior Armanius White returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for the game’s first score, GMC reached the end zone twice more thanks to a couple of chunk plays. What Coleman needs to see from his own spread offense this week is an ability to drive the football, not just score from far out. Penalties and an interception killed the Bulldogs’ second quarter drives.
“In the second quarter we had a lot of holding penalties that brought some big plays back,” said Coleman. “Now we need to tune in and focus to make our blocks because we’ve got some talented running backs that can run the football. If we’re blocking and they find a crease, they can make a guy miss and continue to get those big plays.”
Friday’s kickoff between GMC Prep and Oglethorpe County is set for 7:30 p.m. in Lexington. Inclement weather was not in the forecast as of Wednesday afternoon’s reports.