The Valdosta Daily Times
After a commanding victory last week to open their region schedule, the Valwood Valiants go on the road tonight to face Terrell Academy, a small independent school based out of Dawson, in a Region 3-AA contest.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Dawson.
Valwood is one of three undefeated teams in the region following last week’s action. Head coach Ashley Henderson hopes his team can continue its undefeated season.
“The region only has three undefeated teams this week and we are fortunate to be one of them,” Henderson said. “And hopefully next week we can still say the same thing. We are taking it a week at a time. We are trying to punch our ticket to the playoffs and then improve our seat once we are in.”
The Valiants face a tough challenge tonight in the Terrell Academy Eagles, who enter with a 5-2 record.
Henderson called the Eagles a “hard-nosed” football team that plays a “physical brand” of football.
“We pride ourselves on a physical brand of football,” he said. “It is a good challenge for us because we are going to their turf.”
Offensively, the Eagles run a wing-T offense that runs straight downhill, according to Henderson.
“They run the power wing-T,” Henderson said. “Not many reverses; they will run a little bit of counter with it, but they are power straight down hill. They are a physical football team.”
Tonight’s meeting will be the first since 2009 when Terrell Academy beat the Valiants 46-0 in Albany. The current four-year senior Valiant players were just freshman, but remember the loss well.
“The last time we went there, it was these seniors’ freshman year and they threw a double-reverse pass for a touchdown late,” Henderson said. “There is no love lost between these schools.
“That freshman year, they went 1-9, so you don’t ever forget 1-9. These kids brought it up to me. They told me (about the late touchdown pass). I didn’t know. So they haven’t forgotten about that.”
Since that 1-9 season, the Valiants have reeled off 23 wins compared to just five losses. But they have never started a season 7-0.
Valwood will continue to work with two quarterbacks this week. After struggling in a 36-8 win over Memorial Day last month and throwing two interceptions in a 3-point win over Mount de Sales, senior Jake Lastinger started sharing his quarterback roles with fellow senior Tyler Williams.
In last week’s 59-7 win over Sherwood Christian, both quarterbacks played and threw touchdown passes. Williams threw two TD passes to lead the Valwood offense.
As Henderson explained, both quarterbacks have unique sets of skills that can help the team win and reach the ultimate goal of a state championship.
“We are changing things up, letting some different guys do different things,” Henderson said. “They both have a unique set of abilities we can win with.”
In their blowout win, the Valiants raced out to a 49-0 first half lead, which allowed the coaching staff to play everyone on the game day varsity roster.
“It was one of those things, they turned it over a couple of times and we scored touchdowns off their turnovers and we were firing on all cylinders as well,” Henderson said. “We went three-and-out, and before we touched the ball again, we were up 10-0.
“The best part about it to me, was everyone contributed. “We had a bunch of guys score touchdowns or make big plays.”
With everyone getting an opportunity to play, Henderson was able to sit his starters and give them rest heading into the final four weeks of the regular season, and hopefully three postseason games to win a state championship.
“I think we are at a good point,” Henderson said. “We haven’t had any big injures, knock on wood. We have had a couple games where the older guys had to play all four quarters and then we’ve had a couple where everyone on the roster played. Hopefully we continue to do that.”