TIFTON -- Any concerns now about the Valdosta Wildcats?
Seven days after being shut out by Madison County, Valdosta High exploded against Tift County, routing the Devils 42-0.
The Wildcats got the rout started with a 10-play, 77-yard opening drive in which they did pretty much whatever they wanted, to go up 7-0.
"I was real proud of the opening drive," Valdosta head coach Mike O'Brien said. "Our kids came out hard. No. 25 (Dewayne Williams) did a tremendous job running the ball, and the linemen did a tremendous job blocking, and we were able to move the ball down and score."
Valdosta's offense might have done that to Tift on future drives, but it encountered a problem: it couldn't get on the field. After that first drive, Valdosta scored as many touchdowns as the offense ran first-half plays-- four-- thanks to defensive touchdowns by Carlton Williams, Eric Williams and Marcus Brooken.
As a result, the first-team offense got little work. Quarterback Cedric Hatten attempted just three passes all game, and Dewayne Williams didn't play offense after the first drive. Williams and Willie Cowart, Valdosta's emerging two-back tandem, combined for 101 yards on 13 carries.
DANDY DEFENSE: Indeed, Valdosta's best offense at times Friday night was a good defense. Carlton Williams picked up a dropped lateral and ran it 52 yards for a touchdown, Eric Williams intercepted a pass and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown, and Brooken intercepted a pass and took it back 75 yards for another score.
"We got some big plays from our defense," O'Brien said. "The defense stepped up tonight, and Marcus and Eric and Carlton made big plays on those touchdowns."
Defensive end Keith Blake also helped on special teams, blocking a punt to give Valdosta the ball at the Tift 22. That set up Hatten's seven-yard touchdown run.
Tift County quarterback Josh Allen, who had been the frontrunner for region Offensive Player of the Year, had a miserable time with Valdosta's defense. Allen was just 8-for-21 for 69 yards, and gained just 13 yards on 13 carries, after losing 18 yards on a mishandled fourth-quarter snap.
Louis Brown and Josh Bowen, the region's two leading receivers, had three catches for 26 yards and one catch for 15 yards, respectively.
OOPS, WRONG TEAM: The Tift County game program had the wrong names for the Valdosta Wildcats. By the time the game was over, the Blue Devils knew who they were.
The Tift program gave the Lowndes roster instead of Valdosta-- a felony in Lowndes County but merely an honest mistake in Tifton. Valdosta probably would like to have Cory Clemons, Zach Parker and Freeman Stephens. And no, that wasn't linebacker John Moore quarterbacking the Valdosta offense, wingback Stephens returning a fumble for a touchdown, or 200-pound guard Josh Warren kicking extra points for Valdosta.
Once the mistake was caught, someone was able to get ahold of a Valdosta roster, and did get photocopies for some of the fans.
ON GUARD: Valdosta now must be on guard for a letdown against Lowndes. Last year, Valdosta hammered Coffee 33-0 the week before Winnersville. A team that looked unbeatable then lost 23-10 to the Vikings.
"We're going to enjoy this win tonight, and maybe tomorrow, but after that, we've got to get ready for Lowndes," O'Brien said. "Lowndes is going to be a big game."
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