Valdosta Daily Times

Sports

November 16, 2010

Vikings feeling good again

VALDOSTA — For the first time in weeks, the Lowndes Vikings walked off the field all smiles, after beating the Groves Rebels in the first round of the playoffs last Friday.

The Vikings dominated all phases of the game, and didn’t play flat at any time in their 42-6 win over the Rebels.  It had been a while since they cruised to a win, and could enjoy a well-played game.

“It felt pretty good,” running back Troy Braswell said. “Coach told us no matter what team we’re playing, to play our hearts out, so we did that.”

Lowndes head coach Randy McPherson said after the game that the two weeks of practice between a loss to Tift County and the first round of the playoffs were not very fun. The Vikings got back to having fun on the field against the Rebels. They put up 278 yards of offense, and held the Rebels to just 44 yards.

Braswell, the Vikings’ home run hitter and leading back, was near full strength, and returned a punt for a touchdown. The secondary, much maligned for most of the season, didn’t allow any big plays. Kenneth Durden intercepted a pass and Josh Clemons tipped away a potential touchdown pass.

These were the Vikings that the Lowndes fans have come know and expect.

“I thought, overall, we played well,” McPherson said. “They enjoyed a win, I know that. We played a good game, and the kids are happy and I’m proud of the effort they put in the last couple weeks.”

After escaping with wins over Colquitt County and Coffee, the Vikings left the field breathing a sigh of relief, as if they were playing with fire. They finally got burned against Tift County in a 10-7 loss. They left their home field for the locker room shaking their heads.  Two weeks of soul searching and a 36-point win later, the Vikings have seemingly regained their swagger.

“We regained it, and I think we’ll keep it,” Braswell said.

That new sense of confidence couldn’t have come at a better time, because the Vikings have one of their toughest opponents of the season coming to Martin Stadium in the second round. The Newnan Cougars (7-4) came back from a 7-3 deficit to wallop South Cobb, 31-7, in the first round.

The two teams are unfamiliar. Friday will be the first-ever meeting between the Vikings and the Cougars.

“They look good on tape. Good team, good program,” McPherson said.

The Vikings will try to improve to 17-0 at home under McPherson in the playoffs. However, going on the road doesn’t seem to bother the Cougars. They won at M.L. King, at East Coweta and at South Cobb in three of the last four weeks.

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