Valdosta Daily Times

September 26, 2013

Vikings ready for first region test against Colquitt Packers

Derrick Davis
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The Lowndes Vikings have had a great week of practice in preparation for the impending match-up with the Colquitt County Packers on Friday night in what is sure to be an intense game from start to finish.

The first week of Region 1-6A features a tough draw for the Vikings as they must face one of the early state championship favorites, but Lowndes sounds up to the challenge.

“We’ve had three really good practices, three really physical practices,” said Lowndes head coach Randy McPherson. “The kids have done a really good job of preparing. It’s been a good week.”

McPherson said that the intensity has been “way up” in practice this week, which is understandable given the recent history between these two teams.

In 2008, legendary coach Rush Propst took over Tim Cokley’s 2-8 team at Colquitt County and in just five years has built one of the most impressive programs in Georgia.

Over those same five years, Lowndes and Colquitt, as well as McPherson and Propst, have also developed quite the rivalry.

Both McPherson and Propst have a ton of wins under their belts, 189 and 231 respectively, as well as nine state championships between the two.

In the first meeting between the two coaches, Propst was embarrassed by McPherson’s Vikings in a 51-0 romp in 2008 at Martin Stadium as the Packers would finish the season at 4-6 and the Vikings would eventually fall to Grayson in the state championship game.

The year 2009 provided more of the same; Lowndes won big over the Packers, this time in Colquitt, 31-6 en route to a region title.

The Packers would play an even closer game a year later at Martin Stadium, but nevertheless, McPherson went up 3-0 on Propst with a 37-27 win.

Despite losing that game, the Packers would make it to the state championship game where they would fall to Brookwood.

Propst would finally get his first win over McPherson and the Vikings in 2011 in Moultrie, but the win wouldn’t be without controversy.

Lowndes entered the contest after dropping their first Winnersville Classic in eight years the week before. With a 34-7 advantage, with under a minute remaining in the game, the Packers continued throwing the ball with their full complement of starters still in the game.

Those contests were nothing compared to the game, and controversy, surrounding last year.

Following a thrilling 17-14 Lowndes victory, Propst accused McPherson and the Vikings of foul play.

Propst claimed that a man named Buzz Payne, a Thomas County Central coach and a former member of his staff, was sitting in front the visitors side press box, watching the game through binoculars and then relaying the signals to the Lowndes coaching staff.

A year ago Propst claimed, “It was a planned act between Lowndes, Buzz Payne and Thomas County Central. (TCC’s) head coach (Bill Shaver) and athletic director (Mike Singletary) had knowledge of it.”

Despite Propst’s claims, McPherson denied any knowledge of wrongdoing and Payne in general, but Propst was adamant in his convictions.

“Anywhere, anytime, I will put my hand on a Bible,” said Propst. “I know Lowndes and Randy McPherson and I know Thomas County Central and their administration knew what Buzz Payne was doing.”

The Georgia High School Association looked into Propst’s allegations, but eventually cleared Lowndes of any wrongdoing.

McPherson and Propst have both declined to comment any further on last year’s events.

Instead, it appears that both coaches are putting a little extra into this game.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever put as many hours into a game as I have this one,” Propst said. “On Thursday night, I’ll sleep well because I’ll know we’ve done all we can do.”

McPherson and the Vikings better be ready come 8 p.m. Friday or else they risk getting run over by the speeding train that is the Packers championship aspirations.