The Valdosta Daily Times
Doug Belk had plenty of experience running the option at Lowndes High School. He took his knowledge of the option attack to Carson-Newman, where he helped the Eagles win 36 games in a four-year stretch from 2007-10.
But now, as the Valdosta State football team prepares for its NCAA Division II quarterfinal matchup against Carson-Newman, Belk is preparing to coach against his former team, while trying to help the Blazers advance to the national semifinals for the first time since 2007.
Belk, the former Lowndes football standout, is a current graduate assistant defensive backs coach at Valdosta State and has played a vital role in the Blazers’ game-planning against the Eagles this week.
“(Doug) was in that system for a long time and he understands the basics of what they try to do,” Valdosta State head coach David Dean said. “So it has been nice for him to be able to know the ins and outs and know what adjustments they might try to make.”
A two-time state champion quarterback at Lowndes, Belk signed a national letter of intent with Carson-Newman following his senior season with the Vikings in 2005, which was capped off with a 49-7 romp of Brookwood in the Class 5A state championship game.
Once he joined the Eagles, Belk played nearly every skill position possible — quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back — and was the Eagles’ starting quarterback his senior season in 2010.
This week, though, it is Belk’s skills at quarterback that are being utilized by the Blazers, as Belk has been serving as the scout team quarterback in practice.
“It is the same approach we always take,” Belk said, downplaying his role in this week’s game plan. “My impact might be bigger because I know the system and I played there, but, to me, it is just about how well can we get our guys prepared and ready to play.”
One of the things Belk can relate to his defensive players this week is the speed of the Eagles’ offensive attack and the importance of being disciplined throughout Saturday’s game, which is set for a noon kickoff at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
“Just the aspect of being disciplined, knowing the looks they are going to give you,” Belk said.
“A lot of it looks the same, but it is different. One thing you can’t simulate in practice with our guys is the speed that is going to be coming at you in the game.”
While Belk now wears his red and black with pride, he said his time spent at Carson-Newman was enjoyable and that he wouldn’t change his college experience.
“It was a great experience; I was able to play multiple positions,” Belk said. “Mostly, it just let me grow up away from home. It was a good experience.”
One of the enjoyable experiences Belk was able to enjoy while at Carson-Newman was playing against the Blazers in the 2008 playoffs in Valdosta. While Valdosta State won the game, Belk, who caught three passes in the game, described the trip as an enjoyable one.
“That was a great experience,” Belk said. “Unfortunately, at Carson-Newman, we didn’t come away with a win. But it was a great experience. Playing in the (South Atlantic Conference), we didn’t get a lot of games down here, so it was a great chance for me to come home and play in front of a lot of friends and just being back in Valdosta.”
As for if he plans on meeting up with former teammates or coaches at midfield on Saturday, Belk admitted that he mainly only keeps in touch with his former coaches, who he considers mentors to his young career.
“I’m in their profession and a lot of those guys were mentors to me,” Belk said.
“I still have some of the older guys on the team that played with me. But it is definitely a big thing for me to be playing against these guys. From the other side of it, rather than being a player, but being a coach, it is a little different of a mindset.”
With Lowndes, Belk led the Vikings to the 2004 and 2005 Class AAAAA state championships.
During the 2004 state championship game, Belk threw two touchdowns passes against Parkview to secure the win. He finished the season with five total touchdown passes. In the 2005 title game, he ran for a touchdown.