McDONOUGH –– Keeping it close is what the Valwood Valiants (4-2) have done all season and they kept the trend going against Creekside Christian Cougars on Friday.
Valwood stole a 14-7 road win after blatantly underestimating the now 0-6 Cougars.
The Valwood Valiants didn’t score until the last five minutes of the game. A Gatlin Kimbro touchdown catch tied it up and Aalah Brown’s clutch pick-six on the ensuing drive essentially sealed the game.
A win is a win, but Valwood made it much harder on themselves by thinking they were too good for Creekside.
“A lot of people expected to win big,” sophomore Bay Moorman said about how the team approached this game. “Other teams crushed this team, we were expecting to do the same. We were already planning for the second team to come in and (Creekside) came out drove the ball down, we made a couple mistakes, we just weren’t ready for it… we won’t (underestimate) a team ever again.”
Valwood came out flat and couldn’t get a single thing going offensively. After Creekside stopped Valwood’s first drive, they pounded the line of scrimmage and ran in a touchdown in the first quarter. Their first touchdown score in a first half this season.
Penalties, poor execution, and Creekside’s milking of the clock kept the Valwood offense off the field for majority of the first half. Frustration was visible on the whole team, and some people were left speechless as to what was going on.
Creekside came to play for their first win and Valwood did what Head Coach Justin Henderson called “rolling their helmets.”
“I take responsibility for that,” said Valwood offensive coordinator Israel Troupe about the team underestimating Creekside. “We kind of took it off of them this week because the Tiftarea game was so physical. But as of right now and coming into this week, because we are battle tested, we’re going to keep the foot on the gas all week this week… it’s just fixing penalties because the only people that can beat Valwood is Valwood, and we’ve shown that week after week after week. So at some point we’ve got to fix that and after manually fixing myself, I will.”
Towards the end of the third quarter, players were grim on the sidelines like they already lost. A flurry of penalties kept messing up their momentum, and that has been a reoccurring problem this year. Combine that with underestimating the opposition and you have a problem, but Valwood was still resilient.
Moorman’s heavy hits and big run in the fourth put them in the red zone, giving the spark that led to Kimbro’s touchdown.
Responding to adversity. They preach it in practice and show it on the field, even though it gives their coaches headaches, the players stepped up and found a way to win again. They’re now 4-2 on the season because of it.
“It was the perfect storm for a bad game and I’m glad it happened here tonight,” said Valwood Head Coach Justin Henderson. “We were able to sneak away with a win, nobody got hurt, so overall I’m pleased with the results. Just not pleased with how we got there.”
After playing five straight close games, it wasn’t wise to underestimate the winless Cougars. Valwood knows their potential, and that’s winning state so they can use this win as a wake up call moving forward.
This game was supposed to be the calm before the storm so the schedule doesn’t get any easier with four games remaining.
Next week they’ll be preparing for their second region game against Southland Academy (4-2) who’s also 1-0 in region play.