Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

November 14, 2012

Valdosta offense playing well

VALDOSTA — In its last four football games, the Valdosta Wildcats’ offense has been hard to stop.

Valdosta (7-3) has scored at least 38 points in each of its last four games, and has scored more than 40 points in three of those games.

“Each year, you see your team, as a whole, peak and come together. (They) start playing to their full potential. It seems like we’re starting to do that,” Valdosta head coach Rance Gillespie said.

Earlier this season, VHS managed just six and 14 points, respectively, in back-to-back losses to Camden County and Lowndes — two of the top teams in the state. But since then, Valdosta’s offense has excelled.

The Wildcats scored 35 points in the first half against Tift County, en route to a 42-7 victory. Next, they scored 38 points in the first two and a half quarters in an     important Region 1-6A win over Colquitt County. Then they went to Brunswick and scored 31 points in the second half to pull away for a 41-24 victory. Last week, needing to beat Coffee to get into the playoffs, the Wildcats scored five first half touchdowns, built a commanding 34-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 44-8 victory over the Trojans.

Gillespie says Valdosta is not doing anything different on offense. They’re just doing the same things better.

“(Our offense is) just playing together, getting some (experience) under our belt, gaining some confidence, making some plays and the pieces (are) coming together,” Gillespie said.

After Gillespie became Valdosta’s head coach in 2010, he said that his West Coast offense would be flexible enough to work with whatever personnel the Wildcats had each year. So far, it has been.

In 2010, Valdosta had a potent passing game, with one of the top receivers in the country (Malcolm Mitchell), one of the top tight ends (Jay Rome) and a quarterback that passed for 3,000 yards (Ryan Whilden). This year, Valdosta’s strength on offense is its running game. Nelson Herring has rushed for 931 yards and nine touchdowns, and averages 7.8 yards per carry, while Malcolm Joseph has run for 806 yards and 14 touchdowns, and averages 5.8 yards per carry. Valdosta’s coach really likes the two backs.

“I do (like them). If we play long enough, hopefully both of them will reach (1,000 yards),” Gillespie said.

Valdosta’s offensive line is a big reason why Herring and Joseph have been able to run the ball so well. Left tackle Dyshon Sims, left guard Anthony Evans, center Jamel Hunter, right guard Quincy Jones and right tackle Ronnie Stoney have opened up holes for the running backs all year long, and have also protected the quarterback well.

“Any time you have two backs put up those kinds of numbers, then obviously you’ve got guys in front of them that are opening some holes,” Gillespie said. “That line of scrimmage has played especially well. They really have. Mark (Loudermilk, the offensive line coach) has done a good job developing those guys. ... This year, they’ve just kind of paved the way for us.”

Valdosta hasn’t had to throw the ball as much this year. But when the Wildcats have thrown it, senior quarterback Shelby Wilkes has been effective, completing 60 percent of his passes. Wilkes has thrown for 1,473 yards and 14 touchdowns, and has five touchdown passes in the last two weeks.

Wilkes has spread his passes around to several different receivers. None of the Wildcats have more than 25 receptions, 296 yards receiving or four touchdown catches, but 12 different players have caught at least one pass, five players have at least 179 yards receiving and six different players have caught at least one touchdown pass.

Gillespie said he feels the Wildcats’ passing game is at its most effective when the quarterback can spread the ball around to a number of receivers.

The past two games, tight end Taijuan Smith has been one of Wilkes’ favorite targets. Smith only caught four passes in Valdosta’s first eight games, but in the last two games, he has caught five passes for 153 yards. Four of those five catches went for touchdowns. Wide receiver Sherrod Inman caught seven passes against Colquitt County (for 50 yards and a touchdown), while fellow receiver Alex Cason had a big game against Tift County (two catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns). Joseph and Herring have been reliable receivers out of the backfield for most of the season, combining for 36 catches for 410 yards and five touchdowns.

Valdosta’s offense will try to continue its scoring prowess in the playoffs. The Wildcats travel to North Cobb (8-2) this Friday for their first round playoff game.


The Valdosta Touchdown Club has rented a bus to take fans to Friday night’s game at North Cobb. Tickets are $50 per seat, and can be purchased at the Valdosta Ticket Office, which is located inside the Valdosta City Schools’ Central Offices on Williams Street. The price does not include a ticket to the game; those tickets can be purchased at the gate on Friday.

Text Only
Local Sports
  • Nolin settling in as new VSU soccer coach

    Meet Rebecca Nolin, VSU's new soccer coach.

    July 28, 2014

  • Induction Crowd: Honorees were genuine, down to earth

    More than 48,000 people gathered under the scorching sun at The Clark Sports Center for the 75th National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Sunday, including one woman who carpooled to the event with more than 40 other people.

    July 28, 2014

  • Braves trio all business at inductions

    The Braves seemed almost businesslike in their approach -- something you might expect from a trio that won so consistently.
    Managers Joe Torre and Tony La Russa also remained calm and collected throughout their addresses.
    Frank Thomas took care of the emotional side, his voice breaking and his eyes moist during a heartfelt speech Sunday at the Clark Sports Center.

    July 28, 2014

  • Cooperstown Merchants: Weekend was a success

    Cooperstown merchants are elated about the exceptionally prosperous Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, several storekeepers said Sunday.

    During an afternoon lull in business, when the National Baseball Hall of Fame's induction ceremony was taking place, area shop and restaurant owners took a quick breath, reflected and expressed satisfaction with their sales for the weekend.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hall of Famers thank fathers for stepping up to the plate

    Great ballplayers thanking their dads at a Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is about as original as oil and vinegar are to an Italian restaurant.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hall_Maddux.jpg Hall of Braves

    The weird part was that Jeff Idelson didn't take a lot of time to answer.
    "Is there any word or description that unifies this class?" was the query posed to the National Baseball Hall of Fame's president.
    "The common thread among the six is profound humility," Idelson said of former managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, and former players Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, all of whom will be inducted into the Hall today. "I don't think I realized that fully until I spent time with them in December. It was uncanny to me, for the cumulative star power in that group, the humility among them. I think that's felt really strongly with baseball fans."

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos 1 Story

  • Hall_Cox.jpg Cox’s willingness to defend players stands out to local coaches

    Bobby Cox will be able to add Hall of Famer to his resume when he is inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame today in Cooperstown, N.Y.
    But the former Atlanta Braves manager’s legacy will remain the same to area baseball coaches: his willingness to defend his players.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Valwood_Henderson.jpg Area teams hoping to get over the hump

    Past successes lead to present and future expectations.
    That’s the task faced by pretty much all 12 area high school football coaches present Saturday at In The Game Magazine’s South Georgia Football media day at the Holiday Inn conference center.
    It’s a task that also has the elite group searching for answers as to how to get past the state championship road block in recent years, aside from Valwood’s GISA Class AA crown in 2012.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • VHS little cats camp 1.jpg Valdosta hosts fundamental camp for ‘Little ’Cats’

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • VHS practice1.jpg Getting Back to Work

    Friday officially began the 2014 season for the Valdosta Wildcats and both the offense and defense came out and made statements.
    After holding spring and summer workouts, the Wildcats will practice four more times without pads before beginning full pad practice next week.

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

Blazers Blog