VALDOSTA – The Lowndes High Vikings (2-1) travel to Leesburg this Friday to play their toughest opponent yet this season, the Lee County Trojans.
The Trojans, who went 12-2 last year and made it to the 6A state championship game, have started the 2021 season 3-0 – dominating their last two games by a combined score of 124-0.
The Vikings improved to 2-1 after winning in a shootout against Florida’s Lake Gibson Braves 58-47 last week.
While the Vikings' defense looked stagnant in the first half, allowing 35 points; after halftime, they woke up and allowed only 10 more points. Vikings head coach Jamey DuBose was pleased with the improved second-half performance from the unit.
“The staff came in defensively at halftime and made some really good adjustments,” DuBose said.
He also praised the “coachability” of his players and how they learned from mistakes in the first half.
“Guys are making mistakes because of youth and inexperience, but they’re responding to coaching,” DuBose said.
However, against the Trojans, it will be important for the Vikings to be prepared to make plays early to avoid the fate of Lee’s previous two matchups against Maynard Jackson and East Ridge. They can’t wait until the second half to align correctly and make the right assignments.
The Trojans have scored 21 and 35 points respectively in the first quarter against those teams. DuBose is well-versed in these situations, however.
“We just got to go to their place – a hostile environment… and weather the storm for the first 10-12 minutes, and settle in and play some football,” DuBose said. “I always say, when you go on the road, you got to handle your first 10 minutes because there’s going to be a lot of noise, but things start to settle in during the second quarter.”
Before the Vikings can really settle in, DuBose and his staff must figure out how to deal with some of the studs on the Trojans' defense. They are big and they are athletic.
The Trojans' defense is led by three of the top 70 players in the state of Georgia, according to 247sports. Senior Jaron Willis at linebacker and safeties Quavian Carter and Malcom Jones are all 6-foot-1 or taller, and only Jones weighs less than 200 pounds. All of them are committed to Power 5 schools.
On both sides of the ball, DuBose says the Trojans "have a lot of depth and experience, they’ve got size. They’re a big football team.”
Senior offensive lineman and Florida State commit Qua’shon Sapp is a monster in the middle, standing a massive 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds.
But with Jacarre “Smoke” Fleming and Chase Belcher back completely healthy and Kris Thomas still playing exceptionally on the perimeter – and with all of them recording over 100 yards last week against Lake Gibson – the Vikings have plenty of speed to counter the Trojans' size.
Though he doesn't need any introduction, quarterback Jacurri Brown presents problems for any defense with his speed and size at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds.
The Trojans represent the toughest test yet for the Vikings. They’re returning several starters from last year's team that lost to Buford in the 6A State Championship. MaxPreps currently ranks the Trojans the second-ranked 6A football team in the state and eighth overall.
On the other hand, the Trojans haven’t seen anybody near to the caliber of the Vikings this season, who are by far the highest-ranked team the Trojans have faced this year.
“I know [the Trojans] got a really good football team, but have they really been tested? We’ve got to go test them,” DuBose said. “Go put them through what we’ve been through the last three weeks. We’re gonna find out if they’re ready for that.”
As DuBose said, the Vikings are already battle-tested and have seen tough battles and won games through adversity already this season.
“We’ve got to turn up the heat on ‘em,” DuBose said. “Let’s go take it to ‘em. Because I don’t know that anybody has. Our group is not gonna fear going in there.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.