Valdosta Daily Times

January 17, 2014

Valdosta State Football announces new schedule

Staff Reports

VALDOSTA —  An early season rematch of the 2012 NCAA Division II National Championship game as well as three games against 2013 Playoff participants highlight the 2014 Valdosta State football schedule, as announced by Blazer Head Coach David Dean, Thursday.

"Once again, we will play one of the toughest schedules in the nation this year," stated Dean in the making the announcement. "We open the season with four teams that are perennial playoff squads and then close the year with three straight games on the road, including two more against teams that traditionally are playing in the playoffs. This schedule will certainly be a test for our football team."

The Blazers open the 2014 schedule at home in Bazemore-Hyder Stadium against in-state rival Albany State on September 6. The game will be the 16th all-time meeting between the two schools, although the first since VSU and the Golden Rams met in 2011.

The following weekend, Valdosta State will travel to the Atlanta area as it plays Winston-Salem State at Cantrell Stadium on the campus of McEachern High School in a rematch of the 2012 National Championship game.

In the first and only meeting between the two programs, the Blazers defeated the Rams 35-7 to claim their third national championship.

"We are excited for the chance to play in the Atlanta area," Dean continued. "We have a lot of alumni and a lot of former players that live around there so we are hoping for a great turnout. It will be a chance for us to showcase our team in front of a lot of people that normally can't make it to Valdosta for a home game. At the same time, from a football standpoint, its a great early season game for us.”

“Winston-Salem State has been a power out of the CIAA the last three years. Likewise, it gives us a chance to get our guys used to going on the road, without having to travel very far. Much like when we play Albany State and Fort Valley State early in the year on the road, it will be strong test for our squad."

Following the game against WSSU, Valdosta State jumps into Gulf South Conference play as it returns to Valdosta to play Delta State on Sept. 20.

The following week, the Blazers travel to Florence, Ala. to take on 2013 GSC co-champion and NCAA quarterfinalist North Alabama before a bye week on Oct. 4.

Off of the bye, Valdosta State will host West Georgia in the annual "Battle for the Peach Basket" on Oct. 11 and on Oct. 18 will renew its series against Mississippi College in Clinton, Miss.

The Blazers final home game will be Oct. 25 when it hosts Shorter, a game that will feature VSU's Homecoming and Senior Day.

A trip to 2013 GSC co-champion West Alabama on Nov. 1 begins the three-game road stretch to finish out the regular season.

 Meanwhile, VSU's final two games of the year will take place

on fields new to the Blazer program as Valdosta State visits UNC-Pembroke on Nov. 8 and Florida Tech on Nov. 15.

"Its a concern finishing the season with three three straight games on the road," Dean concluded. "By that point of the year, you have gotten a little beat up and being on the road provides a lot of stress that you don't have at home. Plus, the players are missing a lot of key classes late in the year as they approach finals. Additionally, West Alabama and UNC-Pembroke always draw large crowds and Florida Tech will be a brand new experience for us. It will be a challenge, but one we expect our players to be ready for."

All of Valdosta State's 2014 game dates are subject to change when the Gulf South Conference announces its 2014 GSC TV Game of the Week package over the summer.