Valdosta Daily Times

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July 9, 2014

Rounding into Form

Wildcats efficient in passing league with Gators, Rebels

VALDOSTA — With the National Select 7-on-7 qualifier looming Friday, Valdosta High School is hoping to be rounding into form.

Throwing against Berrien and Ware County at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium, the Wildcats looked ready to return to the national tournament in Hoover, Ala., as they picked apart the Gators’ and Rebels’ secondaries. Ware managed the lone touchdown allowed by Valdosta’s varsity in the four-team workout that included the Wildcats’ junior varsity as well.

“We’ve been working at it,” VHS coach Rance Gillespie said. “We’ve got a month behind us, we’ve been going since we got out of school. We’re about where I’d expect us to be for this time of year.

“We’ve got a little tournament coming up this weekend and hopefully we’ll start hitting our run right there this weekend.”

Alternating series, both VHS quarterbacks, Cole Massengill and Seth Shuman, showed flashes as the Wildcats scored on their seven final drives of the passing league. Total, Massengill — who led the Wildcats to that national tournament last summer before a knee injury in fall camp derailed his junior season — completed 18 of 24 passes for 246 yards and six touchdowns against Ware and Berrien. His lone drive that didn’t produce points ended in an interception on the final possession of the first matchup with the Class AAAAA Gators.

Shuman, who was one of the three quarterbacks to get snaps in Massengill’s place, got off to a slow start Tuesday. His two drives in the initial meeting with Ware ended in turnover on downs as he completed 3 of 8 passes for 26 yards. However, he then rattled off three straight touchdown drives as he completed eight of his final nine passes for 120 yards and three touchdowns.

“We better be able to pitch it and catch it pretty good up there,” Gillespie said of Valdosta heading to Lassiter for the qualifer on Friday.

“Ware and Berrien both do a good job, two quality football teams that are coached well. It’s a chance for us to come out and compete, see how the kids react and compete, and allows us a chance to teach from a secondary standpoint, from a receiver standpoint and from a quarterback standpoint.”

The Rebels, meanwhile, were looking forward to the challenge of trying to matchup with the talented Wildcats and Gators. Berrien coach Ed Pilcher said his Class AA squad could only get better after the workout they received.

“We’re used to seeing these athletes in the region we’re in, so it definitely wasn’t anything different from what we’ll see every week in region play,” Pilcher said. “That’s why we want to go against good people is because that’s what we’re going to see.”

And against the two large school powers, Berrien did take its lumps. However, Pilcher saw positive signs as well, including the multiple touchdowns scored against the Gators.

“It’s a challenge for our kids no matter who we’re lining up against, but when you line up against two powers like these two here, we get nothing but dadgum good stuff out of it,” he said. “They can see some weaknesses in it, but we did some good things today. Overall, I’m pleased. We are shorthanded at times and outathleted, but overall it’s nothing but good when we get to something like this here.”

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