Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

October 19, 2007

The History of the Winnersville Classic

The Valdosta-Lowndes football series began in 1968, after the Lowndes County school system consolidated into one high school and the current St. Augustine Road facility was built.

Valdosta High, which had a 55-year head start on its football program, dominated the early part of the series. It won the first nine games, allowing Lowndes just 26 points in those games.

But from 1977-80, under the direction of former Valdosta High assistant Joe Wilson, Lowndes High beat its crosstown rival twice in four regular-season meetings. The Vikings reversed one of their regular season losses with a 6-0 win in the 1980 region playoffs, and went on to win their first state title.

In 1981, the series took on a new identity. Behind the efforts of Johnny B. Lastinger and the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce, the game was renamed the Winnersville Classic. A series of community events were planned in conjunction with the game.

The name came from a nickname penned by The Valdosta Daily Times sports editor Mike Chason, who had recognized the community’s winning efforts in many sports after the first class was inducted into the Valdosta-Lowndes County Sports Hall of Fame in 1977.

In 1985, Lowndes beat Valdosta in both the regular season and region playoffs — the only time the Vikings have defeated Valdosta twice in one season.

But from there, Valdosta began another long stretch of dominating the series. It won 11 straight Winnersville Classic games and two playoff games, all under Nick Hyder — the winningest coach in the series.

The changed in 1997, when Lowndes High ended the streak with a 14-7 win.

After a Valdosta win in 1998, Lowndes did what no other Viking team had done before — won three-straight Classics under the direction of Milt Miller.

Valdosta ended the streak in 2002, beating Lowndes, 21-13. But Lowndes has prevailed in the last two Winnersville Classics, and in both seasons, has gone on to win the state championship.

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