Valdosta Daily Times

Top Sports News

October 12, 2012

Vikings treating clash with Wildcats as a ‘normal game’

VALDOSTA — One of the most unique rivalries in high school football gets renewed tonight when the Lowndes Vikings visit the Valdosta Wildcats in the 2012 Winnersville Classic.

The Vikings (6-0, 2-0 in Region 1-6A) will put their undefeated record on the line by visiting the Wildcats (3-2, 0-1 in Region 1-6A), who are desperate for a win following a blowout loss to Camden County two weeks ago.

Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. from Valdosta’s Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. The game is sold out.

To prepare for the annual clash with the ’Cats, the Vikings kept to their normal practice schedule and are attempting to treat this game as a normal week.

“Everybody is excited,” Lowndes head coach Randy McPherson said. “Everybody is excited, and has a little more fire and focus.”

This week is anything but normal. This is the Winnersville Classic, where the game was sold out by lunch time on Wednesday and where fans call in sick from work just to tailgate the entire day.

With all 11,500 seats in Valdosta’s Bazemore-Hyder Stadium filled for tonight’s game, the crowd noise will be the loudest the Vikings will face, home or away, all season. To help prepare for the crowd noise, which includes two bands, the Lowndes coaches tried to get the players accustomed to playing with noise during practice this week.

“We practiced with some loud noise (on Tuesday) and we did OK with it,” McPherson said. “I think we’re ready.

“We’ve been practicing well, practicing fast and turning the heat up.”

Following classes today, the Vikings will go through their normal game day routine for road games, with the exception of having a much shorter road trip for this game. Lowndes will have to load its buses and travel just 3.3 miles to the away stadium in town.

The players will be fed at the Lowndes field house on campus, and will have ample time to rest and watch movies, have a final walk-through as a team and hold meetings with coaches before getting dressed and heading to the stadium.

On the field, the Vikings will keep everything normal and will not alter their pre-game warmup schedule.

“We treat it like a normal game,” McPherson said.

If the Vikings needed more motivation to get up for a football game against their rival, the finish to last year’s Winnersville Classic will provide that extra motivation. Trailing 17-7 with 1:14 remaining, the Wildcats scored 14-unanswered points to beat the Vikings, ending their 7-year losing streak to Lowndes.

The loss is something the Vikings haven’t forgotten about.

“That (finish) has come up,” McPherson said on Monday.

With both schools being located inside the city of Valdosta, the amount of players that know one another is high. With so much crossover, several players took to Twitter during the week for pre-game trash talk.

McPherson did not ban his team from Twitter or other social media Web sites, saying he tries to stay “out of that kind of stuff.”

Two heavy topics on Twitter were last year’s finish at Martin Stadium and Lowndes quarterback Alex Stephenson, who transferred from Valdosta to Lowndes following the completion of the 2011 football season.

“I haven’t heard anything about a tweet,” said McPherson downplaying the role of social media.

As for Stephenson, he will start at quarterback for the Vikings. On the year, he has completed 15 of 26 passes for 191 yards, with two touchdowns. He will split time with junior Seth Carlo, who has completed 11 of 24 passes for 135 yards.

The strength of Lowndes’ offense is the running game. The Vikings are averaging 285.2 yards rushing per contest.

The Wildcats allowed 283 yards on the ground to Camden County two weeks ago, which could give the Vikings hope that they can run the football.

Offensively, the Valdosta offense is led by quarterback Shelby Wilkes, who threw two touchdown passes in the final minute of last year’s game to beat the Vikings. Wilkes has struggled at times this season, completing 57 percent of his passes for 713 yards, with four touchdowns and four interceptions.

In the loss to Camden County two weeks ago (the Wildcats were idle last week), Wilkes was intercepted two times, both by superstar J.J. Green.

At running back, seniors Malcolm Joseph and Nelson Herring provide the Wildcats with a dual threat in the backfield. The duo has combined for 892 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns this season. The duo has also combined for 267 receiving yards and three receiving scores.

Luckily, the Vikings have excelled on the defensive front this season. Under the direction of defensive coordinator Taz Dixon, who was on staff at Valdosta in 2010 and 2011, the Vikings have three shut outs this season and are allowing just 7.5 points per game.

Valdosta was held to just six points in the loss to Camden County.

Tonight’s game will not be carried on television, unlike three of the previous four Winnersville Classics. The game will be carried on the radio. Lowndes’ broadcast will be carried live on 99.5 FM and Valdosta’s can be heard on 95.7 FM. Fans can follow @Ed_Hooper on Twitter for play-by-play updates of tonight’s game.

Text Only
Top Sports News
  • rachel.jpg Factor X Fitness holds Fitness Classic

    South Georgia is on the verge of muscling its way back into the national bodybuilding scene, ending a lengthy absence.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • No. 21 Blazer Softball faces Lee in regular season finale

    Expect Blazer Nation to be out at Steel's Diamond at Blazer Park in full force today and Saturday to watch their No. 21 Valdosta State softball team take on the Lee Lady Flames in the final series of the 2014 regular season.

    April 18, 2014

  • VHSsigning.jpg Goals Achieved

    The Valdosta High Wildcats hosted a scholarship signing ceremony for senior soccer player Dale Fulton Kent on Thursday afternoon in the schools’ Performing Arts Center.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • MLS.jpg Atlanta lands MLS expansion team for 2017

    Arthur Blank donned traditional soccer garb to mark his newest venture — an MLS team for Atlanta.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Blazers try to garner momentum in GSC finale

    Valdosta State snapped its six-game losing streak a week ago. Now the Blazers are hoping to wrap up its Gulf South Conference schedule with some momentum ahead of next month’s conference tournament.

    April 17, 2014

  • Blazer barrage downs No. 23 Georgia College

    Valdosta State unleashed a season-high 19 hits and tied a season-best in runs as the Blazers defeated No. 23 Georgia College 15-8 in non-conference baseball action at John Kurtz Field Wednesday evening.

    April 17, 2014

  • 2014 Jump.jpg Showtime in the Down Under

    Just a junior in high school, Valwood’s Chandler Cargile has already seen things that most people don’t get to experience in a lifetime. Cargile recently returned to Lake Park from Mulwala, Australia, where he competed in the Barefoot Water Ski World Championships. The competition hosted participants from 15 countries and lasted for two weeks last month.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Valdosta State tennis gears up for GSC Tournament

    The Valdosta State men's and women's tennis teams are set to compete against the rest of the league in the Gulf South Conference Tournament, scheduled to be played this week in Montgomery, Ala. for the seventh straight season.

    April 17, 2014

  • Kaleb Whitfield against Crisp.jpg No Dome for Wildcats in Corky Kell Classic

    Valdosta High’s chance of playing in the Georgia Dome this year now depends on reaching the state championship game.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • VSU scrimmage6.jpg Valdosta State’s offense comes alive, narrowly defeating the ‘Black Swarm’ 59-55

    Worried more about helping Valdosta State win than impressing in his quarterback battle, Kaleb Nobles got the opportunity to do both at the end of the Blazers' spring game Saturday.

    April 13, 2014 4 Photos

Top News

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
     View Results