Samuel D. Logan
The Valdosta Daily Times
The Valdosta State Blazers defeated the Florida Tech Panthers 52-14 during the Blazers homecoming celebration Saturday, but they've been practicing hard this week in preparation for tonight's game against the West Alabama Tigers.
The team missed receiver Regginald Lewis on offense last week, only managing to score one receiving touchdown in a game seeing the Blazers rack up 52 points. Good news this week, as Lewis says, "I am going to play Thursday.”
“There should be little to no error when we hit the field this week. I am more than excited to be back. I’ll be more focused on the field and we will get the job done,” added Lewis.
The Blazers are averaging 219 rushing yards and 216 passing yards a game, and is averaging 41.5 points a game.
With an efficient passing attack, the Blazers are also producing big yardage on the ground. The rushing attack, led by sophomore running tandem Cedric O’Neal and Austin Scott, have a combined eight touchdowns and 742 yards in just four games this season.
The running game will be important to control the clock against a team that is only giving up 63 yards on the ground per game.
Senior quarterback Cayden Cochran has accumulated 844 passing yards and eight touchdowns.
Cochran will have to be on target this week against a team that only allows 16 points a game.
On defense, the Blazers only allowed 9.5 points a game so far this season and will be facing an offense that averages 571 yards a game.
The defense has recorded 12 sacks this season and 32 tackles for loss. The leaders of the defense have been the linebackers. Chris Pope, Justin Williams and Jeremy Grable have combined for 94 tackles on the season.
“We have been working on our eyes on defense. Your eyes will either make a play or miss one,” said linebacker Jeremy Grable.
The Blazers have had a short week to prepare, only practicing on Monday and Tuesday before heading to Alabama on Wednesday morning. The defense will be prepared for a tough battle against a team that beat the Blazers in the regular season last year. In return, the Blazers defeated West Alabama in the playoffs en route to the Division II National Championship.
“West Alabama is a big difference because we know for a fact that they are a very good team. Anytime you go against someone that is as good as you, you know the outcome can be either way,” said Grable.
The key to winning for the Blazers is simple – they can’t make mistakes and they will have to have some big plays.
“We have to stay focused, listen to everything the coaches told us and make big plays,” said receiver Seantavious Jones. “My personal goal is to come out with a win,” added Jones.
The Blazers will take on the Tigers tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Livingston, Ala.
The game will be televised as part of the Gulf South Conference TV Game of the Week package. The game will be broadcasted on Mediacom (Channel 230 in Valdosta), Altitude Communications (Channel 29 in Lowndes County), CSS, CoxSports, TV-24 (Anniston, Ala.), WHCQ-TV (Cleveland, Miss.) and ESPN3 (Internet-Only).