FORSYTH, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Mary Persons Bulldogs look to get back to their winning ways this season after going .500 last year.
That hasn’t happened since Brian Nelson took over as head coach in 2012.
“There’s a standard to uphold here and those guys, you know, realize that it probably fell short a little bit last year,” said Mary Persons head coach Brian Nelson. “I think the guys we have on this team are hungry to get back there.”
45-8 overall and four straight region titles. That’s Mary Persons resume from 2015 to 2018. In 2018, the Bulldogs went 10-0 and advanced to the quarterfinals.
Coach Nelson says 2019 was a learning experience.
“We were in two ball games that we lost literally the last 30 seconds, and we just couldn’t close them out. We couldn’t finish the way we’ve probably been finishing some of those other years. We just couldn’t get through, break through on that one, so I think part of that is a learning experience. You have to play the whole game, and you have to be able to finish and do things like that.”
The Bulldogs lost some key players from that 2018 team, and it forced younger guys with limited experience to step up.
They went 6-6 in 2019, made the playoffs, but lost in the second round. It was their first second round exit since 2015.
“We are a pretty good team, but the last couple of years we’ve been dang good,” said senior linebacker Thomas Warren. “I’m not going to call it a problem, but it was kind of weird getting into a team where you were the top dog and you had all these young guys looking at you.”
But this year, coach Nelson’s group is more seasoned. They’re a year older, and have playoff experience. They’re still young though with only 10 seniors.
“These guys understand the history and tradition of the program they’re playing for and they want to uphold that. They hear it just like I hear it when they go home. Their uncle played here. Their grandpa played here. Their dad played here. And so, I think they’re hungry to try to, you know, I don’t want to say prove something or have a chip on their shoulder, but they’re hungry to get back out there and play and see what happens.”