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Athlete of the week: Thomasville's Gabe Brockett

Thomasville's Gabe Brockett (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)

Lincolnton knew what it had to do to stop Thomasville in the second round of the 2-A playoffs Friday night at Cushwa Stadium.

But actually doing it is a different story.

Gabe Brockett kept up his remarkable run, piling up 356 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs to a surprisingly easy 55-14 victory over the Wolves. Brockett had scoring runs of 52, 53, 3 and 31 yards as the Bulldogs moved on to a third-round matchup at East Lincoln this week.

Not bad for a team that started 0-6 and lined up a guy at tailback who had played defense his whole life.

“Some of the players had to boost some of their teammates up, because some kids were getting discouraged and didn’t want to play any more,” Brockett admitted.

“But our teammates, and our coaches, kept them in there.”

Despite starting 0-6, the Bulldogs felt like they were making strides. Playing a grueling nonconference schedule was tough, but the Bulldogs knew the sledding may get a little easier when they entered Central Carolina Conference play.

“Once we started winning, the team got excited,” he said. “We changed some things up on offense … the blocking schemes changed, so it’s easier for me to run the ball because my holes were bigger.

“I had to adjust. I had never played running back before, I couldn’t really read the holes as good. But as the games went on, I learned.”

Behind a revived offensive line, and with Brockett hitting his stride, Thomasville lost only to league champ Salisbury, then upset Maiden in the first round of the playoffs to set up the second-round game with Lincolnton. That game provided some vengeance, as the Wolves knocked Thomasville out of the postseason last year in the state semifinals.

“We were more mentally prepared for them this year,” Brockett said. “We knew what to expect.

“I’m pretty sure they knew what to expect, too. But I just made sure I was going to run my hardest, and do everything I could. My O-line, they did everything right. And our defense, we couldn’t stop them (Lincolnton) last year, but something got into them this year.”

Without question, all the pieces of the puzzle came together this time around. Brockett ripped off a 52-yard TD run on the Bulldogs’ first possession for a quick 7-0 lead. Freshman Jordan Easter countered with a touchdown run to tie things up out of Lincolnton’s difficult flexbone attack, but Brockett came right back. He raced in from 53 yards out this time for a 14-7 lead, and Thomasville was in high gear. The Bulldogs got two more scores — one from Ike Marsh and another from T.J. Mitchell — to take a 28-7 lead before halftime. Mitchell scored twice more in the third quarter, and Brockett tacked on a pair of scores in the second half.

For the season, the senior has 2,828 yards on the ground and 27 touchdowns. He hopes his run, and the Bulldogs’ run, will keep on going a few more weeks. “After every practice, we huddle up, and we break our huddle with ‘State Champs’ because we want it so bad,” he said. “Last year we wanted it and didn’t get it.

“So this year, we want to make sure we get it.”

Jason Queen can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 220 or