Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

September 7, 2012

’Cats, Trojans clash tonight

Valdosta meets Brooks County in a battle of ranked teams

VALDOSTA — Last week, Valdosta faced a football team from another state. This week, the Wildcats play a team from just down the road.

Tonight, the Brooks County Trojans will make the short drive east on U.S. 84 to Valdosta to battle the Wildcats. The game will kick off at 8 p.m. at Cleveland Field at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.

Valdosta is 1-0 and ranked No. 8 in Class 6A. Last Saturday, the Wildcats started their season with a 28-7 win over North Augusta (S.C.).

“They’re pretty good. It looks like they’ve reloaded,” Brooks County head coach Maurice Freeman said. “It’s going to be a tough game.”

Brooks is 2-0 and ranked No. 3 in Class AA. Last week, the Trojans scored a touchdown in the final seconds to beat Monroe 21-18.

“They are a good South Georgia brand football team,” Valdosta head coach Rance Gillespie said. “What I mean by that is they’re fast, they play hard and they play physical football.”

This is the third year in a row that Brooks has come to Bazemore-Hyder to face Valdosta. Freeman likes playing the Wildcats, for the challenge and the learning experience they give his team.

“We try to play people that are traditionally rich in their football program,” Freeman said. “It shows that Brooks County, a small, little AA school — we’re probably about 30 kids from being a single-A school — it shows that we play hard-nosed football and we try to hang with the big boys.”

A year ago, Brooks County held its own against Valdosta. The Trojans led the game 5-0 at halftime, and their defense shut out the Wildcats for the first 35 minutes of the game. But then Valdosta scored three touchdowns in the final 13 minutes of the game, and rallied for a 20-11 win.

“We gave them a good fight. We gave them a scare,” Freeman recalled. “But in the end, they came out on top. We had a great time. We played hard, we played the best we could. And I think we’ll do the same thing this year. We’ll get over there, we’ll play the best we can. And when we leave out of that stadium, we’ll have no regrets. We’re going to play as hard as we can play, and let the chips fall where they may.”

Freeman’s teams have traditionally run an option offense out of the I formation, but this year, the Trojans have switched to the spread. Reason No. 1 is Malcolm Parrish, one of the top dual threat quarterbacks in the state. Parrish has 404 passing yards and 216 rushing yards in two games. Reason No. 2 is a fleet of fast wide receivers.

“Offensively, they’re different than they have been in the past,” Gillespie said. “The Parrish kid is starting to come into his own. He’s been a great player since he was in ninth grade. (He’s got) two years of experience as a quarterback. Now he’s entering his third year, and he’s off to a great start and they’re giving him more and more of that offense. So they are a little bit different. They’re throwing the ball a little bit more. And he’s certainly got some weapons to throw it to at wide receiver. ... They’re very dangerous on that side with their speed and their athleticism.”

Brooks uses an aggressive 4-4 base defense.

“Defensively, they’re basically doing the same things they have been,” Gillespie said. “It’s high pressure and get after you, and play a physical brand of defense. And they do it well. And it’s all predicated on speed. And they play fast.”

Gillespie is impressed with several Brooks players.

“The Parrish kid, obviously, is one of (their best players),” he said. “They’ve got a defensive end (Jicarrie Watkins) that’s a good player. They’ve got a linebacker/ running back (Brandon Golden) that’s at least a two-year starter for them. (Deric) Herring that plays corner (is real good). (Atta Jenkins and Dejuan Miley) are good players. They’ve got (talented players) scattered throughout.”

Valdosta has run a West Coast offense with a zone blocking scheme ever since Gillespie arrived in 2010. While Gillespie’s teams have been better known for throwing the ball, last week, it was the ground game that did most of the damage, piling up 306 rushing yards. Nelson Herring (140 yards, one touchdown) and Malcolm Joseph (135 yards, 2 TDs) both had big games carrying the ball.

“Those running backs are very challenging,” Freeman said. “No. 1 (Joseph) is a hard-running inside-outside guy. No. 13 (Herring) is as fast as they come. The quarterback (Shelby Wilkes) throws well to No. 11 (Alex Cason) and No. 7 (Sherrod Inman). He throws the out and the deep ball real well. (They’ve got) a huge offensive line. I’m very impressed with them; a lot of size. They block well, they’ve got a good scheme.”

Valdosta and Brooks County have met six times since 1995. Each time, Freeman was the Trojans’ head coach. Valdosta also played Quitman High School 12 times between 1919 and 1932, many years before it became Brooks County High School. Valdosta, with considerably more players, has won all 18 games.

What will it take to win tonight’s game?

“We’ve got to come out ready to play, because they’re going to be fired up,” Gillespie said. “We’ve got to come out ready to play from the (time) the ball’s kicked. We’ve got to eliminate mistakes, and with it being early in the year, that’s still a concern. No turnovers. We’ve got to be able to match their speed offensively and their athleticism on the perimeter. For us, offensively, we’ve got to handle all the different stuff they will throw at us, all the different pressures and blitzes.”

“We’ve got to play perfect,” Freeman said. “We’ve got to grade out at every position at about 90-95 percent. We just can’t make the big mistakes. We can’t make any mistakes on special teams. We cannot give up the big play. We’ve got to use the clock. We’ve got to manage the clock well on offense and defense. We’ve got to force turnovers. And we’ve got to make three or four big plays that lead to touchdowns. Somehow we’ve got to find a way to earn easy touchdowns.”

Tonight will be Military Appreciation Night. All military personnel, active and retired, will receive free admission to the game, including spouse/guest and dependent children.

Text Only
Local Sports
  • Grable signs with Tampa Bay

    Another former Valdosta State football player joined the ranks of the National Football League when linebacker Jeremy Grable signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday morning.

    July 23, 2014

  • MaryAlice.jpg Just Keep Running

    Forrest Gump once said, "I used to run to get to where I was going, but I never thought it would take me anywhere." In the case of 18 year-old Mary Alice Smoot, anywhere is Tampa, Fla.
    After four years of unparalleled success running cross-country at Valwood, Smoot will continue running competitively next season at the University of Tampa.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10U ELITE World Series Champs.jpg DKSA Elite win USSSA Global World Series

    DKSA ELITE just continues to win, the 10U team’s latest victory came in the USSSA Global World Series held in Destin, Fla. July 8-12.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lowndes_McPherson.jpg Milestones on tap for upcoming season

    Some milestones are destined to occur, like when Georgia Christian hosts David Emanuel on Aug. 22 in the Generals’ first varsity football game since the late 1960s.
    Others will have to wait and see what continues to take shape come Friday when teams can begin fall practice, and especially Aug. 1 when teams can suit up in pads for the first time, such as can Valdosta win its record 24th state title, or can Lowndes capture its fourth state championship under Randy McPherson, or can Valwood and coach Ashley Henderson play in its third straight GISA state championship game?
    As we start to find out the answers to those questions in just a few short weeks — the regular season is just 31 days away — there should be a few more milestones for area coaches to mark 2014 right along with the Generals getting back on the gridiron.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ACC_Jimbo.jpg Back on top

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ACC_Petrino.jpg Petrino returns to Louisville for first ACC season

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Braves_Marlins JUpton.jpg Jones lifts Marlins past Braves in 10

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ant Smith.JPG Anthony Smith ready for new test in college

    Smith was a three-year starter as a Wildcat and quickly worked his way up as a leader on both the defense and the team as a whole.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • Wildcats participate in national 7-on-7 tournament

    The Valdosta High Wildcats have been working extremely hard this summer to prepare for the football season. Summer workouts and a plethora of 7-on-7 tournaments and competitions have kept the Wildcats busy.

    July 20, 2014

  • Valwood.jpg A Different Look

    With football summer workouts in full swing, occasionally the intensity and competitive drive can wane going against teammates. But on Friday, Valwood, Brookwood, Lanier County and Tiftarea Academy broke up the monotony by meeting at Goddard Field for a four-team, 7-on-7 passing league.

    July 19, 2014 2 Photos

Blazers Blog