THOMSON --- For the first time at Thomson, football coach Luther Welsh is having to cope with a losing season and the fact that his team has been eliminated from the playoffs.
The Bulldogs' 2-7 record has led some critics to call for Welsh to retire after he guides the team against Region 3-AAA champion Baldwin on Friday.
Welsh, 77, said this week he will make a decision about his future in December.
"I'm going to decide what I want to do over the Christmas holidays," Welsh said. "I'll have plenty of time to think about what I want to do then, and that's when I'll make my decision."
He plans to make his decision while on his farm near Bishopville, S.C.
Welsh, who came to Thomson in 1984, helped lead the Bulldogs to back-to-back Class AAA state championships in 1984 and 1985. His 2002 team won the Class AAAA state crown. No other football coach in the history of the school has won three state titles.
"We've had a lot of successful seasons during my two stints at Thomson," Welsh said. "I'm very proud of the success I've had at Thomson. I still have the energy to coach right now."
But when it comes to a decision on whether to continue coaching the Bulldogs, Welsh is noncommittal.
"Right now I'm just not ready to say," he said. "I really just don't know, yet."
Welsh said he has done his best to ignore critics this season.
"I don't even pay people like them any attention," Welsh said. "They may as well be looking at the sky. I don't worry about what outside people say. In fact, they're wasting their time, if they think they can get to me."
Welsh has coached high school football in Georgia and South Carolina for the past 53 years.
"Over the years, high school has been good to me," he said. "We just hit one of those years where the season hasn't been very good. But the players have done the best they could do."