Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

November 2, 2012

Column: Friday night fever

VALDOSTA — OK, here we go! The wait is finally over. Tonight, high school football fans all around the United States will get to see this area’s most highly anticipated matchup of the season (yes, even more than Winnersville). Camden County plays Lowndes in Martin Stadium for the region championship.

Both teams are undefeated, both are ranked in the top four of the state and both are looking to make a statement heading into the playoffs in a few weeks. Not sure if this could have played out any better.

Before I dive into the Camden-Lowndes game, let me remind you that the Valwood Valiants are trying to secure an outright region championship tonight, while teams like Valdosta, Clinch County and Cook are all looking to improve their playoff positioning.

In the weekly pick ’em standings, Christian and I were both 5-1 last week (I want on the record that I had Valdosta beating Colquitt County). Christian leads the overall standings by one game; he is 42-11, while I am 41-12. Make sure to follow us on Twitter at @VDTsports and @Ed_Hooper.

No. 1 Camden County at No. 4 Lowndes

This is the mecca of high school football games this season, and the entire country will get to watch live on ESPNU. Let’s get this thing started already!

Obviously this game is intriguing on many levels. Camden and Lowndes are two of the clear powers in high school football in the state of Georgia. The two schools have combined for six of the last nine state titles in Class 5A, and both are vying for the chance to win the first-ever 6A championship.

But to me, the most interesting thing about this game is the matchup itself. Camden County is the big, strong, high-profile team with a ton of Division I commitments, while Lowndes is the small, young, talented team that has no superstars but just finds ways to win the close games and dominate the games they are supposed to.

I’ve been impressed with both teams this season.

When the season began, everyone knew that Camden was going to be a legitimate contender for the championship. I wasn’t as sold on Lowndes. In fact, I really didn’t buy into how good the Vikings were until their win over Colquitt County five weeks into the season. The first four games of the year (two that I missed because of travel for Valdosta State) just didn’t prove anything.

I tweeted earlier this week that I thought Camden County was, statistically, the greatest high school football team ever. The Wildcats are scoring over 46 points a game and allowing just over four. Those are the kind of numbers you get by playing video games, if you’re lucky.

Obviously, Camden County has a lot of talent and is very well coached (you don’t win 90 straight region games without good coaching and some very good athletes).

Tonight, I think, will prove to be the toughest test of the season for Camden County. I think the Wildcats are the better football team, I really do. But Lowndes’ Randy McPherson has a way of motivating his football team for big games, and I don’t see the Vikings being blown out tonight. There is too much on the line and too many eyes on this game.

If there is anything that worries me about Lowndes, it is the health of All-State safety Tiquan Lang and running back Nick Burgman. I don’t see either of those two players stepping onto the field tonight, although McPherson has them listed as day-to-day. The amount of rest time they will get by not playing tonight will be valuable for Lowndes moving towards the playoffs.

I hope the Vikings win tonight, just like I hope all of our local area teams win every Friday night. Winning teams sell more papers than losing teams, and they are much more fun to write about.

I’m just not sure, without Lang and Burgman being at full-strength, if the Vikings can beat this Camden County team, which someone told me “was the greatest team I’ve ever seen,” following the rout of Valdosta.

Ed: Camden County wins 28-20

Christian: Camden might be the best high school football team I’ve ever seen, too. Lowndes will put up a good fight tonight, but Camden has no weaknesses, and in the end, the Wildcats will just be too good. Camden wins 24-7.

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