Samuel D. Logan
The Associated Press
The Valdosta High Wildcats have been preparing for the annual Winnersville Classic against the Lowndes Vikings for two weeks now. Coming off a bye week, the Wildcats made sure to use time wisely with preparation. With the high school students being on Fall Break last Friday and Monday, the football team still held their regular practices, at modified times.
The Wildcats added the element of music at practice over the last two weeks, getting players and coaches ready for the hostile environment at Martin Stadium. The game is currently sold out and will have close to 11,500 fans cheering for either side.
The Wildcats are currently 4-1 and 0-1 in Region 1-AAAAAA play and are ranked No. 10.
Lowndes is 4-2 and 1-1 in the region, making this game the first time since 2002 that the Wildcats come into Winnersville ranked higher than the Vikings.
The Wildcats may be seen as the underdogs in this matchup due to losing 8 out of the last 9 meetings between the teams. In 2011 the Wildcats delivered an electric victory over the Vikings, scoring two touchdowns in the final 48 seconds of the game, giving them an exciting 21-17 victory at Martin Stadium.
The Wildcats feel confident in their chances this season too.
“Everyone says Lowndes' is having a down year right now. I don’t like when people say that. They’re going to play as hard as they can and we are going to do the same,” said linebacker Anthony Smith.
Lowndes runs the wing-t offense, which allows for a strong rushing attack.
The Wildcat linebacker core will be tested heavily by Jerome Daniels and Arvin Berry, two running backs for the Vikings.
Expect senior defensive tackle Darrius Sapp to clog the middle and make tackles in this game. Linebackers Anthony Smith and Terrell Roundtree will have to stay on their assignments and make clean tackles in open space.
When the Vikings choose to throw the ball, the Wildcat secondary will have to be alert and make plays. Junior defensive back duo Tre Barrett and Joshua Norwood will be put on this spot in the game Friday and must be able to grab interceptions whenever they can.
The running back duo of seniors Malcolm Joseph and Nelson Herring have combined for 974 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns in five games this season. Expect to see this trend continue. The Wildcats will need to control the clock and time of possession and with Herring averaging 12.3 yards a carry and Joseph averaging 7.5, this may become an issue for the Vikings defense.
The Vikings have allowed 30 or more points in their last two meetings for the first time since 1994 and have had some team issues since their first loss against Newton High school on Sept. 6, a team that the Wildcats beat on Sept. 20, 42-14.
The quarterback position still is commanded by senior Mac Loudermilk, who is 12-18 for 103 yards and one passing touchdown. Sophomore Seth Shuman is 23-38 for 174 yards and one passing touchdown and is the Wildcats first choice when they are passing the ball.
The game will begin at 8 p.m. at Martin Stadium tonight.