The Valdosta Daily Times
The Valwood Valiants opened their 2013 season in the same way that they ended every game last year.
After a ten-minute lightning delay, the Valiants, coming off an undefeated 2012 season, left Goddard Field victorious off a 27-13 contest over the Spartans of Edmund Burke Academy.
This game served as a season opener for the Valiants after their August 23 road matchup against Windsor Academy was cancelled due to inclement weather.
The Spartans came into the game with a win under their belt, having bested the Buccaneers of Briarwood Academy last week in their annual “Backyard Battle.”
“I have to give credit to (Edmund Burke),” Valwood Head Coach Ashley Henderson said. “They played a great game and there were some mental errors on our part. It’s my responsibility to make sure that those same mistakes don’t happen again,” added Henderson.
A concern coming into the season was Valwood’s ability to replace the production of their graduating class from a season ago, mainly that of quarterback Jake Lastinger and running back Khary Paige.
Senior quarterback Seth Carlo stepped in and helped fill the void in a hurry.
The Lowndes High School transfer finished his first game as a Valiant connecting on 10 of 16 passes for 93 yards, as well as seven attempts on the ground for 21 yards and a touchdown.
While he put on a show, Carlo also threw two interceptions, but Coach Henderson understands that this is only the beginning.
“(Seth) made some really good throws,” Henderson said. “He had a couple of turnovers, but that’s not always on the quarterback. He was able to get us into the end zone those last couple times to put the game away. Overall I thought he played really well.”
Carlo also acknowledges that although the Valiants pulled out a win, there is still room to improve.
“I was a little unsure of how Coach (Henderson) would handle things, but he kept me in,” Carlo said. “We made some mental mistakes, but we’re gonna go back Monday and work hard to make sure we fix everything we can.”
Valwood’s special teams and defense blew the game open in the first quarter. On Edmund Burke’s first possession, Valiant Char Merine intercepted a pass from Spartans’ quarterback Lane Christian and turned it into a touchdown for the home team.
The fans at Goddard Field would not have to wait long to see their Valiants add to their early lead.
Late in the first quarter, an option pitch from Carlo to junior running back Marik Merine turned into a 23-yard touchdown run. After a failed two-point conversion attempt, Valwood’s lead stood at 13-0.
The visiting Spartans would not go down without a fight.
Late in the second quarter, Christian converted on fourth and long with a 13-yard touchdown pass to running back Ben Murray in the right corner of the end zone, but the Valiants managed to head to the locker room with a 13-7 lead at the half.
Early in the third quarter, the Spartans added another touchdown, but a missed extra point attempt left the game tied at 13.
Valiant teammates and fans had a scare late in the third quarter, when Marik carried an option to the right sideline and came up hobbling.
Marik would leave the game with an apparent leg injury but was able to return shortly after.
If any fans were concerned that Marik’s injury may have been serious, their doubts were laid to rest in the fourth quarter. His second touchdown run late in the quarter sealed the Valiant victory.
“I sprained my ankle, but it feels better,” Marik said. “The coaches checked me and I was good to go.”
Marik finished with seven rushing attempts for 72 yards and two touchdowns.
Edmund Burke’s Lane Christian ended the game with 107 yards and one touchdown on 12 of 20 passing attempts. Spartans Ben Murray and Mason Winkler added 26 yards on 10 rushing attempts each.
Valwood (1-0) will see its next action on Sept. 6 when the Valiants travel to Woodbury to face off against the Wildcats of Flint River Academy. The Spartans (1-1) will return to Waynesboro for a contest against the Jaguars of Jefferson Academy.