Bulldogs focus on connection in spring practice

Apr. 25—THOMASVILLE — Despite not having been on the football field since November's second round playoff game, there was no lack of energy on Thomasville's first day of spring practice. Everyone from the first-time freshmen to head coach Jonathan DeLay were full of that excitement and energy that comes with getting back on the gridiron.

"A ton of energy on day one. I love that," said DeLay. "For a first day of spring, extremely pleased with yesterday's practice... I feel like we're bringing back a very mature team. A team that understands how to practice and how to practice fast and physical and take care of your brother."

The Bulldogs will certainly be a veteran team this year with most of last year's offensive production returning and a solid group of vets on defense. For Coach DeLay, that is extremely important. Having guys who already know how to practice and can pass that knowledge down to the incoming players is invaluable.

"When you've got a bunch of old guys coming back like we do, a bunch of guys that have played, it makes it easier to show the new ones as they come in, 'hey, look, this is what a practice looks like and this is the intensity that we practice with, this is how we transition drill to drill,'" said DeLay. "I saw a lot yesterday of players communicating with each other, especially older guys to young guys. Coaches are doing that as well, but when you have a player led team, that takes you a very long way and I think that's what we've got this year with this bunch."

For Thomasville, this year is all about connection. Building the relationships that can take this team to the next level. Spring isn't just about getting your reps in for the Bulldogs. It's also about making sure your brothers are ready as well.

"Our biggest thing this year is connection and I feel like we're moving in the right direction for that," DeLay said. "When I say connection it's about relationships that you build from player to player, player to coach, coach to player and coach to coach. All of those relationships are important to us and that's what we've been preaching all offseason."

As for the football of it all, Thomasville is focused on establishing its identity. Coach DeLay is making sure that the terminology and philosophy remains the same, but it's always an adjustment when two new coordinators step into the building, even if they have previously been with the team.

"We've got to establish our identity," Delay said. "Finding that identity offensively, what kind of team are we? Are we run first, can we be a balanced team, are we a screen team, RPO? Those are the types of things that we're looking for in the spring. What new wrinkles can we bring and build off what we've done in the past? Defensively, we've done a really good job, Coach Hodges and his staff this offseason, of installing the defense and just getting he kids to play really fast."

Coach DeLay was very quick to praise his defense on day one of spring practice, saying how much he enjoyed watching them "fly" around the field.

"That's what I want to see," DeLay said. "I want to see those guys on the defensive side of the ball who are going to run and tackle and then make plays when the ball's in the air. We're trying to find all of those pieces and that's what the spring is for."