Valdosta Daily Times

October 23, 2012

Blazers ranked fourth in first region rankings

VSU preparing for Shorter on short week

Ed Hooper
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Fourth. That was where the Valdosta State football team was ranked in the first Division II Super Region 2 rankings, released Monday afternoon.

The Blazers are ranked fourth after starting the season with a 6-2 overall record and a 5-2 record against Division II competition.

“I thought we would be about three or four,” Valdosta State head coach David Dean said. “If you look at the national rankings, we are the third ranked team in the South Region. So I figured we would be somewhere in there around three or four.”

Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) leader Miles is ranked No. 1 in Super Region 2 with a 7-1 record against Division II schools. Mars Hill is ranked second with a 5-1 record against DII competition, followed by West Alabama, who is 4-1 against Division II teams.

Carson-Newman is ranked fifth and Fort Valley State is ranked sixth. Both teams have 5-2 records against Division II competition.

The top six teams in the final region rankings, set to be released Sunday, Nov. 11, will make up the playoff field.

The top two seeded teams will receive bye weeks in the first round, while the third seed will host the sixth seed and the fourth seed will host the fifth seed. The playoffs begin Nov. 17.

“The thing is, it is going to change,” said Dean of the rankings. “We have three weeks left in the regular season, so a lot of those folks are going to play each other and have tough games yet to play. All we can do is take care of ourselves.”

Lenoir-Rhyne (4-2), Wingate (5-3), Newberry (5-3) and Albany State (5-3) round out the top 10 of the rankings.

The Blazers visit Gulf South Conference newcomer Shorter Thursday night in the GSC Game of the Week.

With such a quick turnaround, the Blazers couldn’t afford to take a day off, and practiced Sunday and Monday night under the lights at their practice facility.

“I was very pleased,” Dean said of practice. “I was really surprised that we came out with the spunk and the fire that we did. I thought, coming off three emotional games and a very physical football game from the day before, I thought we would have to be pulling teeth a little bit. And it was actually pretty good. I was pleased.”

VSU will practice again Tuesday afternoon before holding a walk through Wednesday afternoon. The Blazers will depart for Shorter on Wednesday evening.

With the region rankings being released hours before Monday night’s practice, the Blazers now understood where they stood in the aspect of earning a playoff berth.

“Our players know what is at stake now,” Dean said. “They put themselves in a position to be in the playoff hunt. I’m sure when they find out they are ranked in the top six of the region that will create a little bit of juice.”

Saturday’s 59-41 win over rival Delta State, the Blazers’ first victory over the Statesmen since 2005, was a physical football game. Several players left with injuries.

Dean said offensive lineman Edmund Kugbila is questionable for Thursday’s game, while wide receiver Quin Roberson (neck) is out, along with defensive lineman Andrew Lauritsen (ankle) and defensive back Xavier Crane (broken arm).

“There are some guys limping around,” quarterback Cayden Cochran said. “But I think, for the most part, we are all right. Edmund is a little sore, he is walking around with a stiff leg, but for the most part, we are all right.”