Valdosta Daily Times

October 5, 2012

Back to football

Amid controversy, Vikings return to field to host Pirates

Ed Hooper
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — At last, after a week of defending their school, their team and the way they play football, the Lowndes Vikings finally return to the playing surface inside Martin Stadium.

Tonight, the Vikings don’t have to defend their integrity or their honor. Instead, they get to play another region game and take another step in claiming a region championship when the Brunswick Pirates visit in a Region 1-6A contest.

Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.   

“Region championship is on the line,” Lowndes head coach Randy McPherson said. “Our goal is to play better, play harder, play smarter. You have to play like you are playing for the region title every week. Period.”

The Vikings are 1-0 in the region following a 17-14 win over the Colquitt County Packers last Friday. Following the win, Packers head coach Rush Propst accused the Vikings of stealing Colquitt County’s offensive signals with the aid of a Thomas County Central assistant.

 Brunswick was idle last week and tonight’s game will mark the Pirates’ first game as a member of Region 1.

McPherson said the week of practice leading up to tonight’s game has been “fantastic” and that there have been no outside distractions.

“There has been zero outside distractions here,” McPherson said. “We know what happened Friday night. There have been zero distractions.”

After a week filled with controversy, running out of the locker room tonight will be highly-anticipated moment for the Vikings.

“I just think everybody is staying focused and we are not really worried about what everybody else is saying,” quarterback Alex Stephenson said. “We are just doing everything on the field and in this school and we are not worried about the outside.”

Stephenson said he and other Lowndes players have received multiple questions about the allegations, but nobody is commenting on the situation.

“People talk to you, but nobody is really talking about it,” Stephenson said. “We don’t cheat at Lowndes.”

Offensively, Brunswick is a spread offense that can mix the run and pass well. McPherson described the Pirates’ offense as “wide-open.”

“They have very good athletes,” McPherson added.

Regardless of how many athletes the Pirates have, Lowndes’ defense will be their toughest test of the season. The Vikings are allowing just under 136 yards a game, including just 71 yards on the ground.

The Vikings are also forcing 2.4 turnovers per contest, which is giving Lowndes’ offense short fields and manageable scoring opportunities.

Defensively, the Pirates will run a 5-2 defense and look to slow down the Vikings’ running attack that has accounted for 83.5 percent of the offensive production this season.

Lowndes’ rushing attack was especially dominant last week against the Packers. All of the Vikings’ 219 total yards came on the ground, led by Nick Burgman’s 71 yards.

The Pirates will run man coverage on the outside, possibly giving the Vikings opportunities to throw the ball, something they didn’t do well last week. The Viking quarterbacks combined to go 1 for 5 with 0 yards and an interception.

Brunswick is the second straight Lowndes opponent that has had a week off prior to playing the Vikings. Next week, the Vikings will visit Valdosta, which is idle this week.

Regardless, McPherson and the Vikings aren’t getting caught up in the bye week’s of teams and rather focusing on the schedule ahead, including tonight’s game with the Pirates.