VALDOSTA -- It seems like its been a few weeks since Valdosta High's last (and only) football game, but it's only been 11 days.

The Wildcat coaches hope it's been a productive 11 days, though.

"It's gone well, for the most part," Valdosta head coach Rick Darlington said. "I think we're getting better on offense... On defense, it comes down to blocking and tackling, and I think we're going to be OK there, too."

Valdosta (0-1) hosts Southwest Macon at 8 p.m. Friday at Cleveland Field. Tickets are on sale at the Valdosta High ticket office for $7, and will be .

The Wildcats started the week with a good practice. Practice ended shortly after 5 p.m., a sign that the team got things done quickly, and didn't have to spend extra time on any drills.

"Practice went well. This was one of our better Mondays so far," Darlington said. "I think the kids are starting to see there's a correlation between a crummy Monday and a crummy Friday. The two we lost (the Camden scrimmage and the Wayne County game), we'd had crummy practices on Monday. We let them know that Monday they needed to be on a mission."

Improved offense

Darlington and offensive coordinator Welton Coffey have gotten back to a bigger focus on doing the thing that is the backbone of their offense: running the football.

Against Wayne County, Valdosta ran the ball 27 times and tried to throw it 24 times. Many coaches want that kind of balance, but not Darlington or any coach who runs the flexbone.

"If we're throwing the ball that many times, that's not good," the coach said. "If we can run the ball 40 times and throw it less than 10, we will win."

Take away Wayne's four sacks, and Valdosta rushed for 146 yards, a respectable 5.4 yards per carry. But Darlington wants better.

The running game will be helped by the strengthening of the fullback position. Senior Corey James is finally back after receiving little contact in the preseason following a broken jaw. James, a 200-pound back who runs a 4.5 second 40-yard dash, will be key to the offense. Sophomore Keir Moore also continues to develop at fullback. Willie Cowart, who led Valdosta with 70 yards on 10 carries against Wayne, will now play primarily slotback.

Same players, new positions

Not every Wildcat is still playing the same position he began the fall playing. The coaches have been shifting players around, trying to see how they play in other positions.

Junior Brett Chism, for example, is playing his third different position in less than a year. In 2002, Chism was a second-string tight end, catching two passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. VHS' new offense doesn't use a tight end, so Chism was moved to defensive end so they could get his athleticism on the field. Now Chism has been moved back to offense, and will start Friday's game at right tackle.

Chism is at tackle because the old right tackle, Corey Sims, is now playing defensive tackle, because of decreased depth there.

The thinness has worried the coaches enough that senior Cedric Hill, arguably the team's best receiver, has taken some snaps at defensive end in practice to improve depth, though it remains to be seen if he'll play much on defense. Junior Roderick Johnson is also alternating between end and linebacker.

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