Samuel D. Logan
The Valdosta Daily Times
The day that Wildcat fans all over have been waiting for has arrived. The beginning of the 2013 season begins tonight for the Valdosta High Wildcats. The Wildcats will kickoff at 8 p.m. at home against a very speedy Thomas County Central Yellow Jacket team.
The Wildcat defense is primed and ready for the matchup, returning seven starters from last season, all improved from average play at the end of last season.
“Last year was average for us. Our goal is never to be average,” said Head Coach Rance Gillespie.
With the defense already showing promise in practice and in the team scrimmage last week, Coach Gillespie is confident in his players.
All week, the Wildcats have continued to practice defending the option in practice. Using coaches and even receivers, the defense has had the task of guarding the option in every facet of practice.
“We are going up against a good football team and we will have to be able to stop the option,” said the coach.
If the defense is going to have success tonight, they must stop the dynamic triple option offense of the Yellow Jackets, which includes quarterback Adam Choice and running backs Deondre Cooksey and Shaquille Coleman. Choice is a quick quarterback, who can hurt you with his arm and his legs. Choice ran for over 1,600 yards last season. The star running back, Cooksey, ended last season with 10 rushing touchdowns and over 800 yards on the ground.
It will be very important for the defense to stay alert and stay on their assignments. When facing a team running the option, it is pivotal for the defense to not be over aggressive with any of their reads.
If they do that, the Wildcats will surely have a chance for victory.
When asked about preparing for the game tonight, Gillespie acknowledged that the team is continuing to work on themselves.
“We are working to better ourselves each day. We have been getting ready for the different looks we will receive from the Yellow Jackers, however we are fixing a couple of things specifically on the offense,” said Gillespie.
Recently solidifying their offensive line, the Wildcats have been working hard to progress these starters as quickly as possible.
With the stagnant run game becoming an issue for the team, the team spent the majority of the week focused heavily on it.
After a week full of blocking drills and training, the Wildcats look to add more push at the line of scrimmage to create more running room for their double running back tandem of Malcolm Joseph and Nelson Herring.
Thomas County Central boasts two linebackers in Jarell Jones and Austin Bryant that are amazing defenders and plan to cause a lot of trouble for the Wildcat rushing game.
“Working all week, the team is much improved. One thing we must do, though, is to block better,” said Gillespie.
At the quarterback position, the team is still struggling to replace the best passer on the team in Cole Massingill. Gillespie would not name a starting quarterback just yet, however senior Mac Loudermilk has taken a majority of the first team snaps at practice.
You can look forward to seeing the Wildcats play two quarterbacks tonight as they take the field.
With their eyes set on a state championship, the Wildcats hope to end their first home game of the season with a win.
The season begins tonight at 8 p.m. at Cleveland Field at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.