The Valdosta Daily Times
Tonight, the Valdosta Wildcats will make a two-hour road trip to the Atlantic coast to face the Brunswick Pirates.
The teams will kick off at 7:30 p.m. at Glynn County Stadium in Brunswick.
Valdosta (5-3, 2-2 in region play) will try to remain tied for third in the Region 1-6A football standings, while Brunswick (3-5, 0-4 region) will be looking for its first region victory.
Even though Brunswick is winless in its first season in Region 1-6A, Valdosta head coach Rance Gillespie is not overlooking the Pirates. Not after what they did two years ago against Valdosta. In 2010, the Wildcats and the Pirates traded touchdowns all night, before Valdosta pulled out a 64-62 win in overtime.
“They’re totally capable of beating anybody in the region,” Gillespie said. “We need to go over there, we need to be at our best, we need to be focused and we need to play mistake-free football. We have to limit mistakes. We’ve got to contain the football. These guys play fast, so we’ll have to play at their speed, and be able to match up on the perimeter and tackle the ball in space. (A team like Brunswick) makes you nervous.”
Last year, the Wildcats defeated the Pirates 24-6 in Brunswick. Valdosta running backs Nelson Herring (125 yards, two touchdowns), Charlie Albritton (87 yards) and Malcolm Joseph (77 yards) combined for 289 yards rushing in the win.
Brunswick runs a spread offense, like it did when it scored 62 points in 2010. This year, the Pirates have scored at least 26 points in four of their eight games, and scored 62 points in a 62-12 win over Groves on Sept. 20.
“They’re really dangerous offensively,” Gillespie said. “They have put up some points on some good football teams this year.”
The Pirates’ offense is led by junior quarterback Cory Dixon. Last year, Dixon completed 9 of 20 passes for 104 yards and a late touchdown against the Wildcats.
“The quarterback is a real good football player, Cory Dixon,” Gillespie said. “Last year, he looked like a kid that was growing into the position, and this year he looks a lot more comfortable. And when he’s a lot more comfortable, obviously he’s a lot bigger threat. He’s a dual threat guy. And he’s got weapons to get the ball to on the perimeter.
“(Their receivers are) kind of the same typical Brunswick perimeter guys that we’ve seen the last couple of years. A lot of perimeter speed, with good ball skills and (they) know what to do with the ball when they get it out in the open field. ... We’ll have to do a good job of tackling the ball in space this week.”
Brunswick uses a multiple defense that is usually either a 5-2 or a 3-4 front.
“Defensively, they’ve got a couple of guys that kind of jump out at you. Quan Tobler is the Mike linebacker, No. 37. He’s a real good football player. The two outside backers (Demetrius Newberry and Jerry Clark) are good players,” Gillespie said. “(They’re) athletic in the secondary. They’ve got some bigger guys (playing inside linebacker and defensive line). They’ve got a tall, rangy safety (Tracy Walker).”
Valdosta holds a 5-0 lifetime record against Brunswick. Three of those wins came in the playoffs.
While it takes about two hours to drive from Valdosta to Brunswick, the Wildcats’ coach says it’s not a difficult trip.
“It’s not terrible,” Gillespie said. “It’s long. I wish that our region was closer, but it is what is, and we’ll load up and make that trip. I don’t think the trip will have an effect on our kids. We made the trip to Atlanta earlier in the year, and we’ve made some trips (in the past). I think we’ll be fine.”
Directions from Valdosta to Glynn County Stadium (2747 4th Street in Brunswick): Take U.S. 84 east to Waycross. After passing Ware County High School in Waycross, turn right onto U.S. 1/23/82/84, then when the roads split, stay on U.S. 82 heading east. Go 50.7 miles to Brunswick. Turn left onto S.R. 303 (Blythe Island Highway) and go 8.1 miles. Turn right onto Altama Avenue and go 1.2 miles, then turn left onto 4th Street. Go 0.6 miles. The stadium is on your left.