The cold weather showed up, but fortunately for Thomson High School, so did the fans.
On a day that saw temperatures dip below 40, the school celebrated its 2002 Class AAAA football state championship - its first title since the 1984 season - in grand fashion.
A crowd of several hundred parents, faculty, and fans lined Main Street in downtown Thomson to watch players, coaches, band members and cheerleaders pass through the city in a celebratory parade. An awards presentation followed in the Brickyard, Thomson's football stadium.
During the team's run to a 15-0 record, their fans seemed to get louder and more numerous every week. So it was no surprise that the fans were anxious to show up and support their champions.
"(The parade is) the greatest thing for the county and community. I've never seen a town support a high school at this magnitude. This is the best place to be a fan," said Stephen Clark.
"I think we've had one of the greatest years Thomson has seen in a while," said Wesley Brannon.
His wife, Carol, agreed.
"I think it (the parade) was the best Christmas present McDuffie County could have had," she said.
The parade began in the parking lot of the IGA grocery store before it made its way down Main Street and ended at the Brickyard. A formal presentation of the championship trophy to coach Luther Welsh and his players capped off a remarkable championship season.
Welsh didn't hesitate to thank his players, but also commended the fans for their support.
"Really, it's been the community and their support. We have the greatest support. Our people love our Bulldogs," he said.
Charlie Newton, chairman of the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners, thought that the coaching staff deserved a lot of credit as well.
"There's something this season that every game centered around and I want to thank our coaches for that. Our entire community carried themselves as champions," he said. "You're looking at the best team that's ever played between these bricks."
Several times during the ceremony, Bones - Thomson's bulldog mascot - began barking loudly, which excited the Thomson faithful even more.
Mayor Robert Knox even declared Jan. 12 Thomson High School Football Appreciation Day.
"What they've (the team) done is awfully special," he said.
At the end of the ceremony, as the Thomson High School marching band played the school fight song, the chilled fans continued to cheer, unaware that the weather was supposed to be slowing them down.
* Fans honor victorious Bulldogs
* Photos: Bow to the Bulldogs
* What do you think of the Bulldogs' championship season?
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