The Valdosta Daily Times
The Valwood Vailants advanced to their third straight semifinals Friday night, routing Trinity Christian 51-7 at Goddard Field. The Vailants improved to 12-0 on the season, one step closer to winning the school’s first state championship since 1999. Valwood will visit John Milledge Academy next week in Milledgeville.
The Crusaders didn’t have an answer for Valwood senior running back Khary Paige Friday night. Paige continuing his stellar season by recording 213 total yards and scoring five touchdowns.
“A lot of people doubted Valwood and now we're showing everybody we can do it,” Paige said. “Thank God for my offensive line.We practiced hard all week.”
It only took two minutes for Valwood to take the early lead. Senior receiver Rashad Mathis put the offense in scoring position after a 69-yard return on the opening kickoff. Three plays later, Paige scored from eight yards out.
On the ensuing possession, Trinity Christian quickly marched down the field behind junior running back Stephon Johnson’s 16 yards rushing. But, just as the Crusaders got into scoring position, running back Will Leverett fumbled the ball and Valwood recovered.
The Vailants extended their lead on the next play as Paige broke loose for a 55-yard touchdown run that gave Valwood a 15- 0 lead.
The Crusaders made yet another strong attempt to cut the deficit early in the second quarter. Valwood allowed them to reach their own 20-yard line before senior Gerrick Williams intercepted Seth Morton’s pass.
Again, Paige scored on Valwood’s next offensive play. This time, Paige broke open a 46-yard run to put Valwood ahead 22-0. Minutes later, Valiant senior Aulden Bynum forced a fumble, which led to the next Valwood score.
The Vailants took a 30-0 lead following Paige’s 8-yard touchdown run in the first half.
Trinity Christian finally got onto the scoreboard on the ensuing drive right before halftime. Thanks to a couple of penalties against Valwood and a long kickoff return, Trinity Christian didn’t have to go far to score. Morton found sophomore Wyatt Payne for a 24-yard touchdown catch with seconds left in the first half. Valwood led 30-7 at halftime.That would be the only score the relentless Valwood defense would allow the entire game.
“They’ve been awesome every week,” Valwood head coach Ashley Henderson said. “They’re not afraid to go head to head with folks. It’s a lot of fun to coach the guys.”
Paige only had one carry in the second half and it went for a 59-yard touchdown run. The play came minutes into the third quarter following a Crusader punt. Morton threw his second interception of the game on the Crusaders’ next possession to give the ball back to Valwood.
Again, the Vailants took advantage of the turnover and tacked on their second unanswered-touchdown.
With Paige now sidelined for the rest of the game, Zane Edmondson took over the running duties. Edmondson recorded 28 of his 58 rushing yards and punched in one of his two touchdowns on the drive. The Vailants went up 44- 7 to enter the fourth quarter.
With the game out of reach, Edmondson extended the already large lead with another touchdown in the closing minutes.
“It feels good. Another team effort,” Henderson said. “We still got a long way to go. We still got to get a lot better. We’re going to work first thing in the morning.”