High school football teams throughout the state will get their final opportunity to tune-up Friday night before kicking off regular season play later this month.
All of the Valdosta Daily Times’ coverage schools will be in exhibition action Friday night, with the exception of Berrien, which will hold its scrimmage Aug. 24 at Sneads (Fla.).
Only three teams host games, while four hit the road Friday night. Among the teams hosting will be the Lowndes Vikings, who host Thomasville at Martin Stadium. Lanier County welcomes Pelham to the Dog Pound and Valwood welcomes former Berrien head coach and Valdosta assistant Ryan Branch and his new team, the Tiftarea Panthers.
Like in past years, Valdosta will visit Ware County, while Cook visits Coffee in Douglas. Brooks County visits former region foe Albany and Clinch County is at Miller County.
Thomasville Bulldogs at Lowndes Vikings
The Vikings’ preseason tune-up comes against the Bulldogs of Thomasville High. Led by a young group of players, including a sophomore quarterback, the Bulldogs are young and athletic. Expected to be in the hunt for a Region 1-AA championship in 2012, the Bulldogs finished the 2011 season with a 6-5 record and a loss to Appling County in the first round of the state playoffs. Lowndes enters Friday night looking for answers at certain positions, including quarterback. Senior Alex Stephenson and junior Seth Carlo enter Friday night’s game even on the depth chart. Expect players like Nick Burgman, Tre’ Jackson and Tiquan Lang to have massive impacts for the Vikings this season.
Valdosta Wildcats at Ware County Gators
For the third consecutive season, the Wildcats and Gators meet in preseason action. Valdosta enters Friday night’s contest in Waycross with a lot of heavy eyes focused on the defense after losing eight starters from last year’s region championship team. Offensively, the Wildcats will look to starter Shelby Wilkes and running backs Malcolm Joseph and Nelson Herring to provide consistency this season. Ware County enters the 2012 season with high aspirations after finishing 2011 with a 10-3 record and an appearance in the state quarterfinals.