Bulldogs back at home to host Washington-Wilkes

Sep. 6—Through three games last year and three games this year, the results have largely been the same.

The GMC Prep football team is 0-3 to begin the season for the second year in a row. The latest defeat came at the hands of private school Brentwood 28-13 in a game where the Bulldogs got down inside the 5-yard line twice only to come up empty.

"We strung some good drives together, but long drives without points can be killers," GMC head coach Bobby Rhoades said. "They can be really deflating."

The first-year head coach said the fruitless forays deep into enemy territory came down to lack of execution, something not uncommon to find in an inexperienced team. A missed chip block on a defensive end made a throw down near the goal line more difficult than it should have been, for one example.

On the flip side, Rhoades saw some things pay off.

"I hope our kids saw that we can make plays and put together drives," he said. "We threw the ball fairly well. There's a lot of things to build on from that game."

Back to the point about early 2023 results mirroring those from '22, scores from two of the first three games in each season are almost eerily similar. Last year's opener against Wheeler County went 42-14 Wheeler where this year's final was 41-7. The Brentwood games were also in the same neighborhood at 27-16 in '22 and 28-13 last week. A fast-improving ACE team is the outlier at 29-15 a year ago where 2023 went the Gryphons' way 48-0.

The bad news for GMC Prep is that if the similar results trend keeps holding sway, another loss is in the cards this week against Washington-Wilkes, who beat the Bulldogs 14-2 last season. The good news is last year's GMC Prep team went on a 4-2 run — coming incredibly close to going 5-1 — to end the regular season on its way to clinching a playoff berth.

Rhoades' team isn't thinking that far ahead yet. The focus is on improving each Monday through Thursday to prepare for the Friday night opponent. The Tigers of Washington-Wilkes (1-1) hold that distinction this week. So far this season they have lost to East Laurens 35-34, enjoyed an early off week, and beat Glenn Hills 48-0 at home.

"They're big, fast and explosive," Rhoades said of the Washington school. "They've got players on both sides of the ball that are just outstanding."

The Tigers under first-year head coach Alex Bradford haven't been shy when it comes to throwing the football this season. Through two games they've been fairly balanced with their passing attempts (31) nearly equaling their rushing total (37). Based on stats from MaxPreps, senior wide receiver Bryson Porter is a player to watch for. He's only caught the football four times, but two of those have gone for touchdowns while his average sits at over 30 yards per reception.

It ought to be another test for the Bulldogs, who will be back on their home field for the second time this regular season. Kickoff between GMC Prep and Washington-Wilkes is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday on Davenport Field.