Brantley TFL

Valdosta defensive end Eric Brantley (9) and safety Jaylen Bentley (4) team up for a tackle during a game Sept. 9 McConnell-Talbert Stadium in Warner Robins.

VALDOSTA – The Valdosta Wildcats (4-0) notched their first shutout of the season last week at Warner Robins – defeating the defending Class 5A state champions 25-0.

Tonight, they welcome the Coral Glades Jaguars (0-2) to Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.

Let’s kick it, Extra Points style.

1) They’re for real

Through the first four games, Valdosta has allowed just 15 points – 3.75 points per game.

Against Warner Robins, the ‘Cats completely shut down the Demons’ offense — holding them to just 78 total yards.

More impressively, the ‘Cats didn’t allow positive yardage on the ground despite the Demons rushing 36 times last week. For the game, Warner Robins finished with -4 yards rushing.

The ‘Cats continued their ball-hawking ways as well as senior cornerback Tim Roberson picked off the Demons twice last week. For the season, Roberson has a pick in each of the first four games and five total on the season.

The sample size is growing steadily and the ‘Cats have yet to be truly tested in non-region play (although they’ll face Region 3-7A McEachern Sept. 23 – that should be fun), but given the personnel they boast on the defensive side of the ball, it’s not a stretch to project that this defense will be hard to run against and equally tough to throw against as the season rolls on.

2) Moving up

With the win over state ranked Warner Robins, Valdosta moved into the state rankings for the first time this season.

The ‘Cats debuted at No. 9 on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia Public Broadcasting, Score Atlanta and MaxPreps Class 7A rankings.

3) Eric Brantley, Player of the Week

Defensive end Eric Brantley has had a phenomenal start to his junior season.

Against Warner Robins, Brantley had seven total tackles with six solo stops, four tackles for loss, six QB hurries and two sacks. He also had time for five carries for 22 yards and a touchdown on offense. Brantley leads the team with six touchdowns in the first four games.

After his performance against Warner Robins, the 6-foot-1, 240-pound defensive force was named Week 4 Player of the Year by Georgia High School Football Daily on Wednesday.

“People have got to look past his height,’’ Valdosta head coach Shelton Felton told GHSF Daily. “If he was 6-4, he’d be a top-five player in the country. You’re not going to find a more explosive, powerful player with the ball smarts and quickness than him.”

4) Still putting up points

This season, the ‘Cats are averaging 35.25 points per game – up a little over 11 points per game from a season ago.

As I’ve discussed in past columns, they get it done very simply – run the ball, take shots with the pass when the opportunities are there and play mistake-free football.

Outside of an interception and a lost fumble last week, the ‘Cats stayed true to their philosophy. Sure, the 25 points against Warner Robins was a season-low. They managed 222 total yards with 145 of that coming from the running game. They had 12 penalties for 83 yards and had just eight first downs.

It’s not always pretty, but style points don’t count extra in the win column.

5) Who is Coral Glades?

The Jaguars come into tonight’s game 0-2, having been outscored 61-25 over their first two games against South Plantation and Deerfield Beach.

Tonight’s game will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.

Shane Thomas is the sports editor at the Valdosta Daily Times.

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