The Valdosta Daily Times
VALDOSTA — A week before the Valdosta State Blazers meet Wingate in their first game of the regular season, they met kids and fans alike at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
The VSU football team held its annual Meet the Blazers day on Saturday, and as always, it was a big hit.
Hundreds of kids came out to participate in clinics and drills put on by the players, and later they enjoyed hot dogs and got autographs.
“It went great,” Blazers head coach David Dean said. “We had another great crowd. The kids came in enthusiastic, and I think our players did a great job with them. Our players had a great time.”
For seniors Demario Jones and Larry Dean, Saturday was the final Meet the Blazers event of their careers.
“It’s a day to sit back and teach these young guys how to do it, so they can keep it going,” Jones said. “Me and Larry talk, and keep saying this is our last this, this is our last that. This is our last camp practice. It’s emotional.”
Larry Dean said he was impressed by one of the kids that did a flip during a celebration. It was one of several unique and spontaneous moments from the young football fans of Valdosta.
“They came out with a lot of fire,” Jones said. “When we see kids come out and run around, we need to match that intensity. It’s letting those young players from the metro Atlanta and middle Georgia area know how important football is in Valdosta to the kids and the community. We’re happy the kids are showing a lot of intensity.”
David Dean said his favorite part was gathering all the kids in the locker room after the clinic, and then running onto the field while the band was playing.
Jones said one drill that really caught on with the kids was the up-down drill. The same cannot be said for the Blazers.
“They loved it,” Jones said. “They wanted to do more. We told them no, we had enough in camp.”
While the Blazers were enjoying a relaxing day meeting members of the community, their first opponent, Wingate, was getting ready to start its season later in the day at West Georgia. Wingate defeated West Georgia 10-7.
The Bulldogs will come to Bazemore-Hyder next week with a 1-0 record.
“It’s not very good for us, because they’ll have a game under their belt before they come here, and they’re a veteran team on top of that,” Dean said. “We’re going to watch it very close.”