Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

October 17, 2012

’Cats now focused on Tift

Wildcats putting Winnersville loss behind them and moving on

VALDOSTA — The Winnersville Classic is usually a hard-fought, physical, emotionally-draining football game.

Then once the game is done, the two teams have to put the game behind them and get ready for another game the following week.

The Valdosta Wildcats are moving on after losing to Lowndes on a last second field goal last Friday (17-14), and getting ready for their next opponent. The Wildcats’ coach says his team has no choice.

“This game doesn’t care what you did last week, and it can be very unforgiving to those who live in last week,” Valdosta head coach Rance Gillespie said. “You have to move on.”

Gillespie also says the Wildcats can’t afford to have a letdown after the Winnersville game. They had one last year, and got beat by Coffee a week after their thrilling victory over Lowndes.

“I thought (the Winnersville game) had a huge effect on us last year,” Valdosta’s coach admitted. “I actually talked with Randy (McPherson, Lowndes’ coach), and he felt like it had a huge effect on his football team last year, too. It’s something you have to guard against, have to protect against, and have to try to line up and play well the following week. The game demands that you do that. If you don’t, then there’s a huge price to pay. We can’t afford, at this juncture, to pay that price.”

It doesn’t sound like Valdosta has had much of a hangover from last Friday. The Wildcats returned to practice this week, and Gillespie says they have had two good days of practice.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they are now 0-2 in a deep, competitive region. The good news is that they’ve already gotten two of their toughest region games (against Camden County and Lowndes) out of the way. At the same time, they still have four region games left to play, none of which will be easy games to win.

“None of them are (easy). None of them,” Gillespie said. “(This is) a very competitive region. I think we all knew that going in.”

Gillespie was pleased with the progress his team made in the two weeks between its games against Camden and Lowndes. The Wildcats went from losing to Camden, the No. 1 team in 6A, by 37 points to losing to Lowndes, the No. 4 team in 6A, on a last-second field goal.

“Our guys played better (against Lowndes),” Valdosta’s coach said. “We made some adjustments with the way we approached the game. The kids executed better. ... You’re continuing to see our team get better. I think that was one of the best games we played all year.”

Over the years, both Valdosta and Lowndes have suffered their share of injuries in the Winnersville Classic. But Valdosta came out of this year’s game with no injured players.

Valdosta’s defensive preparations have been different this week. The past three weeks, the Wildcats’ defenders have been preparing to face the wing-T offenses that Camden and Lowndes run. This week, they are preparing to face a pro style offense that operates primarily out of the I, with some spread mixed in.

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