HAHIRA –– Rivalries make winning so much more rewarding and losing that much more personal.
Friday will be one of the biggest games of the season for Valwood as they host their rival, Frederica Academy. Around Valwood, this week has been referenced as “Frederica Week” and everyone around the school knows the significance of this game.
“We’ve had a bit of a history with (Frederica),” said senior lineman Clark Miller. “They beat us last year in the playoffs and embarrassed us. It’s a game we’ve had circled on our calendars for a while and it’s a game that’s really important to us. It might not be important statistically as a region game, but we feel like it is just because of how bad we want to win this game.”
Last year, these teams split their two matchups. Valwood won 7-6 early in the season, then Frederica found restitution in the playoffs and won 60-27 to knock out Valwood, shattering their dreams of repeating as state champions.
Frederica rode that momentum all through the playoffs and won the 2018 state championship.
Now the last two GISA 3A state champions are set to play this Friday with the same 0-1 record, both determined for their first win.
Valwood is coming off the Bowdon loss and the way that game ended seemed to put more focus in the team as they entered this week of practice.
“Practice on Monday was intense, everybody was on the eight ball, we knew what we wanted, and we came out and busted our butts for it” said senior Tyler Cross. “Practice so far this week has been one of the best.”
Valwood’s head coach, Justin Henderson, has acknowledged and liked the progress his team has made week to week. The team is getting more acclimated, their execution is looking sharper and now they’re able to play a little faster. One of Henderson’s goals is to improve every week, and they’re achieving it.
As for Frederica Academy, they’re missing some big-time players from last year that graduated. They’re coming off a 20-7 loss against Charlton County, where most of the damage was done by running the ball.
Frederica’s defense intercepted Charlton’s quarterback once but gave up 152 yards rushing for two touchdowns in return.
Look out for Valwood’s running backs like Tyler Cross, Blaine Cooper and Bay Moorman as they may have a chance for a productive night on Friday.
This game is another chapter for this rivalry so expect an intense atmosphere through all four quarters.
Friday's kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Goddard Field.