Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

September 28, 2011

Blazers face first flight on Saturday

VALDOSTA — This Saturday, the Valdosta State Blazers will face their first airplane trip of the season, when they take on the Arkansas-Monticello Boll Weevils.

On paper, the fourth-ranked Blazers seem to have the edge. An undefeated record compared to a 2-2 Monticello team that is coming off an embarrasing 21-5 loss to the West Georgia Wolves.

Although it may seem like the Blazers have the edge, they face a rather daunting challenge by flying the same day of the game.

“Well it is different,” Valdosta State head coach David Dean said. “When you get to sleep in your bed the night before, that is nice. But, when you have about three hours of travel that day, it is different and there is no way of really telling (the team) how to do it. There is no way to practice it.”

Part of the challenge that goes into flying the same day of a game includes waking up early, going through security at the Valdosta airport, a plane ride and an hour-and-half bus ride just to get to the stadium. Then, the Blazers have to worry about playing the game.

To add to the challenge of flying, VSU’s roster is filled with young players, 10 to 12 of whom have never flown before.

“It is my first time flying, so I am kind of nervous,” Freshman running back Troy Braswell said. “It is going to be a long day, but it is football, you have to get ready for it.”

Although there are several that have never flown, Dean isn’t worried that it will affect his team come Saturday.

“I told them today it is just like riding in the backseat of a car,” Dean said. “You’re just a little bit higher and when you go to stop, you’re just going a little bit faster.”

Since Dean took over the team in 2007, the Blazers have posted a 3-1 record in the first flight games of the season. The lone loss came in 2009 when VSU fell to Ouachita Baptist. The same Tigers team that VSU will face, when they fly to Arkansas.  

Despite the wins, the victories haven’t come easy, even when playing against less inferior teams. Last season, Valdosta State flew to Magnolia, Ark. to face a winless Southern Arkansas team. The Blazers’ offense sputtered, with the defense scoring all the touchdowns in the 21-0 victory.

In 2008, VSU defeated Henderson State 27-23, after outscoring the Reddies 20-0 in the fourth quarter. Henderson State finished the 2008 season with just a 5-5 record, while Valdosta State made the playoffs.

The Blazers first flight under Dean came in 2007, when they paid a visit to Arkansas Tech. VSU pulled out a narrow 28-27 victory, with Maurice Leggett blocking a Wonder Boy extra point to secure the victory. VSU went on fly three more times that year, en-route to winning a national championship.

“For the majority of (the game), you have to deal with jet lag,” Defensive lineman Larry Bryant Jr. said. “For the guys that did it last year, we are used to it. It is just something the true freshman have to get used to.”

Much like last season, and seasons past, Dean said he isn’t making a big issue of the flight, nor is he talking about the early game struggles during the games that include flights.

“It may be mental, it may be coincidence,” Dean said. “We’re not going to address it, at all. We’re just going to talk about going out and doing our job and doing the things we need to do to win.”

The team will meet in Valdosta around 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and will eat breakfast at the fieldhouse before departing for the airport. The plane will depart Valdosta around 11:40 and will arrive in Monroe, Ark., where the team must endure an hour-and-half bus ride to the stadium.

Text Only
Local Sports
  • 150723-Lowndes_Brooks5.jpg Winding Down

    In its final 7-on-7 test of the summer, Randy McPherson was pleased with how the Lowndes football team looked Wednesday morning.
    Brooks County coach Maurice Freeman, on the other hand, was worried about the kind of hole the Trojans would have dug for themselves at Martin Stadium against the Vikings and Lafayette (Fla.) had it been a real game.

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Grable signs with Tampa Bay

    Another former Valdosta State football player joined the ranks of the National Football League when linebacker Jeremy Grable signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday morning.

    July 23, 2014

  • MaryAlice.jpg Just Keep Running

    Forrest Gump once said, "I used to run to get to where I was going, but I never thought it would take me anywhere." In the case of 18 year-old Mary Alice Smoot, anywhere is Tampa, Fla.
    After four years of unparalleled success running cross-country at Valwood, Smoot will continue running competitively next season at the University of Tampa.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10U ELITE World Series Champs.jpg DKSA Elite win USSSA Global World Series

    DKSA ELITE just continues to win, the 10U team’s latest victory came in the USSSA Global World Series held in Destin, Fla. July 8-12.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lowndes_McPherson.jpg Milestones on tap for upcoming season

    Some milestones are destined to occur, like when Georgia Christian hosts David Emanuel on Aug. 22 in the Generals’ first varsity football game since the late 1960s.
    Others will have to wait and see what continues to take shape come Friday when teams can begin fall practice, and especially Aug. 1 when teams can suit up in pads for the first time, such as can Valdosta win its record 24th state title, or can Lowndes capture its fourth state championship under Randy McPherson, or can Valwood and coach Ashley Henderson play in its third straight GISA state championship game?
    As we start to find out the answers to those questions in just a few short weeks — the regular season is just 31 days away — there should be a few more milestones for area coaches to mark 2014 right along with the Generals getting back on the gridiron.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ACC_Jimbo.jpg Back on top

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ACC_Petrino.jpg Petrino returns to Louisville for first ACC season

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Braves_Marlins JUpton.jpg Jones lifts Marlins past Braves in 10

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ant Smith.JPG Anthony Smith ready for new test in college

    Smith was a three-year starter as a Wildcat and quickly worked his way up as a leader on both the defense and the team as a whole.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • Wildcats participate in national 7-on-7 tournament

    The Valdosta High Wildcats have been working extremely hard this summer to prepare for the football season. Summer workouts and a plethora of 7-on-7 tournaments and competitions have kept the Wildcats busy.

    July 20, 2014

Blazers Blog