The Valdosta Daily Times
Ashley Henderson knows his team still has work to do to claim its second straight region championship.
That is why the Valwood head coach is keeping the Valiants focused as they prepare for their region game against rival Brookwood.
“No question,” Henderson said. “We have two region championship games coming up.”
The Valiants (8-0, 3-0 in Region 3-IAA) visit the Warriors (2-6, 0-3 in Region 3-IAA) tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Thomasville. A victory tonight for the top-ranked Valiants would put them one-win away from clinching back-to-back region titles. They visit rival Southwest Georgia Academy, the only other undefeated team in the region, next Friday night. Southwest Georgia hosts Westwood tonight.
“We can’t worry about what else happens, but we can handle our business,” Henderson said. “We are taking it week-by-week.”
Valwood beat the Westwood Wildcats 48-18 last week on Senior Night at Goddard Field. After leading 13-6 at halftime, the Valiants outscored the Wildcats 35-12 in the second half behind Khary Paige’s 131 rushing yards on the night.
“It was a statement game for our bunch, trying to go out there and set a tone,” Henderson said. “(Westwood) gave us all we wanted there for a while and then we were able to turn it on late. It was sure nice to show our kids that the hard work pays off.”
Now, the Valiants head to Thomasville, where they haven’t had much success. Valwood is just 1-11 all-time at Brookwood’s Warrior Field, with the only win coming back in 2006. Overall, the Warriors hold a 17-6 all-time advantage over the Valiants in the series.
“They’re coached up,” said Henderson of Brookwood. “Coach (Robert) East has been there for a while and he knows how to get his kids up for a game. It is senior night for them. They have some ball players and they get up and go.”
Last year, the Valiants ended a four-year losing streak to Brookwood with a 35-26 win over the Warriors at Goddard field. It was the only win over Brookwood for the current 11 Valwood seniors.
“It always feel good when you can get a win over someone, but this is a new year,” Henderson said. “Looking back at the game film, Brookwood scored a bunch of points against us. We couldn’t really stop them. That is a challenge for us.”
Offensively, Brookwood runs a wing-T style offense. Despite averaging just 17.25 points per game, Henderson said he is impressed with what he saw from the Warriors’ offense when watching game film.
“They run a wing-T and they probably run it better than anyone we’ve faced all year,” Henderson said. “We are going to have to play assignment football. We are going to have to make the right reads, get to the ball and be physical when we get there.”
Defensively, Brookwood lines up in various defensive fronts. Henderson said the Warriors have shown a 3-man, 4-man and bear (5-man) front this season. The plan for Valwood’s offense will be to spread out the Warriors in hopes of not allowing them to stack the box.
“They do a bunch. They will be in a 3-man front and blitz from it, a 4-man front and play up the middle and then when they get into goal line they bring in their bear defense,” Henderson said. “We are looking at a number of different looks and we hope we can continue to spread them out and not let them stack the box against us. If they play us up the middle, hopefully we have something for them.”
Valwood football can be heard on The Jock 1150 AM, 96.1 FM all season long.