VALDOSTA -- With the longest week of preseason out of the way, the work is just beginning for the Valdosta High School football team.

The Wildcats concluded much of their camp experience Friday. They held their usual three-hour practice in the morning and scrimmaged at night at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.

"We're a lot better than when we started Monday, and that's what our main goal was," said head coach Mike O'Brien. "We went in looking to work on all facets of the game and we've done that."

Since it's still 27 days until the first game vs. Wayne County (Aug. 30 at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium), plus another 14 days until the next game (Sept. 13 vs. Macon Southwest at Bazemore-Hyder), there's not a great sense of urgency as the full week of camp closes.

"The kids are excited right now. They've gone through a hard week of practice," O'Brien said. "That's want we want. We want to keep enjoying it and working at it."

The Wildcats still have 11 practices and three scrimmages left before game-week preparations. VHS will go twice a day Monday and Tuesday next week, then give the players Wednesday off as school starts.

"We're not at the level we need to be, but we've seen good moments on all sides," O'Brien said. "The defense dominated at the end of the week, and the offense was sporadic.

"Once we get together and get the timing down, we'll have a good offense."

The Wildcats are turning the offense over to a new quarterback since three-year starter Jarod Alford has graduated. Junior Cedric Hatten leads the way among four quarterbacks getting work.

"As No. 1 (Hatten) gets better, we'll get better," said offensive coordinator Tim Horton. "We have to get the the point where we challenge our defense."

But Horton said the offense took steps forward.

"We're a little ahead of where we normally are right now as far as getting into things," he said. "We still have four weeks, so I didn't want to give them everything right now. We're going to take it real slow."

While the offense emerged fairly healthy after week one, the defense finished with two injuries.

"We had a lot of kids do a great job this week, we just had a couple of injuries," said defensive coordinator Charles Tarpley. "We've got five or six on the second unit who have stepped up and are ready to play."

Returning starting defensive end Antino Adams injured a knee. Its severity was still to be determined. "It looks like it's pretty bad," Tarpley said.

Safety Carlton Williams has a broken arm and probably won't play until the Macon Southwest game.



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