Special to the Times
On Friday night, the defending GISA AA champion Valwood Valiants (7-0, 3-0 in region play) head into battle against the 4-4 (2-1 in region play) Warriors of Brookwood High School (Thomasville, Ga.).
This week, a win will do much more than keep the Valiants undefeated and add to their current 21-game winning streak.
A victory over the Warriors will put the Valiants in the driver’s seat towards yet another GISA Region 3AA Title and bring them one step closer to their ultimate goal of repeating as state champions.
“At this point we control our own destiny,” Coach Henderson said. “Winning this week keeps us from having to worry about any ‘what-ifs’ in regards to clinching the division.”
The Valiants come into Friday’s contest following a 28-7 road win over the Wildcats of Westwood High School (Camilla, Ga.).
Brookwood High School, coming in off of a high-scoring 42-35 win over the Terrell Academy High School Eagles (of Dawson, Ga.), is a team that relies heavily on the run, boasting a roster that includes nine players that are ready to take off on any given play. A heavy run game gives way to other opportunities for the Warriors to take advantage.
“As much as they run it, they mix in a great deal of play action,” Coach Henderson said. “They make sure that a team can’t simply load the box against them. Our (defensive backs) are going to have to play very disciplined football.”
To Valwood’s advantage, the home team will be bolstered with the return of key players to their lineup.
In his first action since Sept. 13, Valiant senior wide receiver and defensive back Char Merine returned from a rib injury and accounted for 164 yards of offense.
“(Char) has been practicing without contact for about the last two weeks, so he’s more than ready,” Coach Henderson said. “I believe that first shot (last Friday during the Westwood game) eliminated any doubts that he might have had in regards to his health. He’s good to go.”
Coach Henderson knows where the Valiants’ defensive effort needs to focus in order to neutralize the advances of the Warriors.
“Their quarterback (sophomore Cale Deese) is one of the best offensive players we’ve seen this season,” Coach Henderson said. “As the defense wears down, he gets stronger. He leads that offense well and (Brookwood Head Coach Shane) Boggs does an excellent job of utilizing him. (Deese) and their running back (Taylor Patterson) are the go-to guys for that offense.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 at Goddard Field.