VALDOSTA –– It’s a numbers game for the Lowndes Vikings.
That’s how long it has been since the semifinal loss against the eventual champions, Milton.
That’s how long it has been since the Vikings last state championship.
It comes to a head today.
Tonight at 8 p.m. the Vikings open their regular season against Charles Drew at Martin Stadium.
“We’ve been waiting all summer from morning workouts to all the spring practices,” senior receiver Ghetti Brown said after Thursday’s practice. “We’ve been putting in a lot of work. I’m ready to show out for the fans and do what I’m supposed to do.”
The Vikings beat Bainbridge in a preseason scrimmage last Friday but that was just one stop on the tour of teams that Lowndes faced during the offseason.
They competed against Warner Robins, Thomasville, Brooks, Coffee Co. and Lee Co. throught the spring and summer.
After the hefty offseason schedule this will be the first results that are tallied and scored.
“I’m just looking forward to getting the season started,” head coach Randy McPherson said. “I told them they’re ready. They know how to execute what we’re trying to do offensively, defensively and kicking game. It’s time to go out there and see what we’ve got.”
The Vikings held Bainbridge’s offense scoreless during the scrimmage while scoring 50 combined points. After the game the team said it was just the start for them.
As they open the regular season, the message hasn’t shifted.
“We want to be better,” defensive coordinator Byron Slack said. “We want to be better than we were last week. That’s our goal and we certainly had a good week at practice.”
The start of the season comes with jitters and excitement. That’s not a feeling that has escaped the Vikings but it hasn’t plagued them either. With senior leadership on the team it has been a controlled issue.
“We’ve got somewhat of a veteran team,” Slack said on managing player’s excitement. “We’ve got a lot of seniors and I give it to them they’ve handled it extremely well this week. That’s what we ask them to do and they’ve certainly taken that mantle and that duty. We don’t have to do a whole lot as coaches. They’ve been excited and that’s a good thing. It shows their maturity level and that they’re ready to get this thing going.”
In last season’s matchup, the Vikings put together a 66-7 victory at home to open the season.
The Vikings got off to a slow start against Bainbridge. This week they’ll be looking to play faster and score more.
“We were kind of slow starting off the football game,” Brown said. “I feel like if we start fast and finish fast we can put up a lot more points … to unlock the full potential we have to play together. We can’t just have one aspect of the game, just the running game. We have to be able to run the ball and receivers have to be able to catch the ball when the quarterback throws the ball.”
In last season’s matchup, the Vikings put together a 66-7 victory at home to open the season. This season they’ll be looking for a duplicated effort.
The key for Drew is running back Derionte Kemp who rushed for a game-high 159 yards in last year’s contest.
The Titans will lean on him to offset the Lowndes’ attacking defense.
The key for the Vikings is to play their game.
“We just want to come out here and execute the best we can,” McPherson said.
Aug. 23: vs. Drew, 8 p.m.
Aug. 30: vs. Champagnat Catholic, 8 p.m.
Sept. 6: vs. Parkview, 8 p.m.
Sept. 13: at East Coweta, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 20: vs. Miami North Western, 8 p.m.
Sept. 27: vs. Valdosta (Winnersville Classic), 8 p.m.
Oct. 4: at Ware Co., 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 18: at Tift Co., 7:30 p.m. (Region game)
Oct. 25: at Camden, 7:30 p.m. (Region game)
Nov. 1: vs. Colquitt, 8 p.m. (Region game)