VALDOSTA -- Valdosta High is throwing an early Region 1-AAAAA welcoming party Friday night at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
However, the Wildcats won't be hospitable hosts when Houston County knocks on the door in round two of the Class AAAAA playoffs. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.
The Bears, the third seed from Region 2-AAAAA, will joining Region 1-AAAAA when Lee County drops to AAAA. Valdosta gets a preview of their new region foe this week when Houston County (8-3) visits Cleveland Field for the first time since 2000.
Valdosta rallied for a 16-13 win over Houston that year in the first round of the playoffs, the only year the two teams have ever met.
The Wildcats (8-3) have won seven in a row and have a short school week thanks to the Thanksgiving Day break. Valdosta is out of school today through Friday, but Wildcats' head coach Rick Darlington said the change in routine wouldn't affect his team's practice schedule.
"We'll come in and practice in the morning," Darlington said. "It will kind of be like the summer. Not exactly summer weather, though."
Although the weather has cooled, the Wildcats haven't. The last time Valdosta finished the regular season with six straight wins was during the Cats' perfect 14-0 season in 1992.
n Valdosta High senior running back Corey James has been riddled with injuries the second half of the season, but could return Friday night.
"Corey has been hurt," Darlington said. "He didn't even dress out last week. He's had a lot of injuries."
James' status for Friday will likely be determined later in the week.
"It really depends on how he does [this week]," Darlington said. "We plan to dress him unless he gets worse."
Because of injuries, James has seen his carries drop in the past four weeks. The senior had only four rushing attempts for minus-1 yard in his last game against Coffee.
Valdosta has used a trio of backs that have filled in nicely in place of James. Senior Willie Cowart, junior Victor Harrell and sophomore Jarvis Stokes all scored last week against Riverdale.
The youngest of three, Stokes, caught Darlington's attention last week with a 46-yard touchdown scamper and continues to become more a part of the Wildcat offense.
"I was impressed with Jarvis," Darlington said of Stokes, who scored twice against Riverdale, rushing for 50 yards.
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