VALDOSTA-- Painted faces, decorated cars, school spirit clothing, tears and screams of joy and anger-- you name it, the Valdosta High School fans did it to show their excitement of the VHS and Camden High School state championship game on Dec. 20.

The actions and support of the VHS Wildcat fans were expressed far beyond words could explain but "Go Cats Go" seemed to be the only explanation of the widely felt excitement.

"I can't even tell you how excited I am," said Courtney Ritter, a sophomore and cheerleader at VHS. "All I can say is 'Go Cats Go!'"

Many fans arrived at the Bazemore-Hyde stadium as early as 1 p.m. to pump the crowd up and start the game tradition of tailgate parties. Parents, friends and die hard fans of the VHS Wildcats gathered at the William Street lot to eat hot dogs, hamburgers and raise their sodas to the big event.

"I'm pumped without a doubt," said Monty Long, a well-known fan and tailgate party organizer. "I can't tell you how excited I am, but I can tell you that I might have worked only eight hours this whole week."

Long started preparing for the tailgate party on Monday, but he was prepared for the game all season.

"I've been on the Internet, talking to friends and just doing it up," Long said.

Even though celebrations and parties are big aspects of the game, other fans were enthusiastic about what the game meant personally. Kristi Steltenpohi, a mother of VHS football players, was thrilled and yet very emotional about the game because it served as the last time her three sons would play together on the field.

"This is Robbie's last year because he is a senior and my other two sons are sophomores," Kristi said. "I cried all day Friday. I've watched them play since the sixth grade so this is very exciting. This was the last everything for us."

In addition to the Steltenpohi family, other fans attended the game because of tradition. Allen Denson, a former VHS student and football player, arrived at the stadium in his brother's VHS championship jacket. Allen's brother, Annanias, played for VHS when the team won the state championship in 1992.

"My brother is in the military, but I'm here for the both of us," Allen said.

Allen also played for the VHS Wildcats for two years from 1996 to 1998. Allen's last year playing was the last time the VHS Wildcats attended the state championship.

"I just want to see the Wildcats win it all again," Allen said.

Allen was accompanied by another long-term fan, Roosevelt Lane Jr., who has attended VHS football games for the past 33 years. He carried his yellow and black seat cushion so no one would question who he was there for and why.

"I got a bunch of young bucks I know who are on the team and I'm just excited to see them do what they do well," Lane said. "And let me stress that they do--do it well."



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