The Valdosta State football team should be well rested by the time it plays in its first playoff game.
The Blazers (8-2) were tabbed the No. 1 seed in Super Region 2 Sunday evening when the complete 24-team field was announced.
With the region’s top-ranking, the Blazers earn a first round bye and won’t play again until Nov. 24.
The Blazers viewed Sunday’s selection show together in the team’s meeting room. When it was announced they had secured the No. 1 seed in the region, a jubilant cheer filled the room before quieting back down to hear the revealing of the rest of the region.
“It says a lot for these kids, being 2-2 and reeling off six in-a-row and getting the respect we got,” Valdosta State head coach David Dean said. “To be the No. 1 team in the region, it says a lot about what they've done.”
Valdosta State will be idle Saturday and will host the winner of the West Alabama-Miles matchup Nov. 24 at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium in Valdosta. It will be 23 days between the Blazers’ regular season finale against Texas A&M-Kingsville and its playoff game, as the Blazers were idle last week.
“It makes a big difference next week because now we will have an opportunity to practice one day for West Alabama, one day for Miles,” Dean said. “Putting an opponent in front of us is going to make practices a lot easier. Without that last week, I still think our kids did a fantastic job of going out and working on the things we needed to work on.”
Fresh off its win over Mars Hill on Saturday, Carson-Newman was tabbed the region’s No. 2 seed, while West Alabama, the outright Gulf South Conference champion, was tabbed the fourth-seed. The Tigers will face Miles — the fifth-seed — on Saturday.
If West Alabama can beat Miles Saturday, it will mark the second time this season the Tigers will visit the Blazers in Valdosta. West Alabama beat Valdosta State 39-28 in the meeting on Sept. 29, handing VSU its second loss of the season. Following that loss, the Blazers were anxious to get another opportunity to play the Tigers and now they might have that chance in the playoffs.
“I would much rather have an opportunity to play someone else in the second round that you haven’t already played,” Dean said. “I wish they wouldn’t match the two Gulf South Conference schools up and the two SAC schools up together. But we are just fortunate to be in it and whoever is lined up in front of us we will go at.”
Lenoir-Rhyne moved up two spots from last week’s rankings and moved into the three-seed, securing a playoff berth for the first time in 50 years. Lenoir-Rhyne will host Fort Valley State, the sixth-seed, which managed to make the playoff field despite a loss in the SIAC Championship Game on Saturday.
“Really, there was nobody else in the region that could step up and make a move up in there,” Dean said of the region. “You look at Mars Hill, but they had four losses this season.”
The top two seeds in the other three Super Regions are: Winston-Salem State (11-0) and New Haven (10-0) in Super Region 1; Minnesota State-Mankato (11-0) and Henderson State (10-0) in Super Region 3; and Colorado State-Pueblo (11-0) and Ashland (11-0) in Super Region 4.