VALDOSTA -- If today's Kendrick High bus ride looks familiar, it should.
For the second straight week the Cherokees head to South Georgia for tonight's non-region game with Lowndes High. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. at Martin Stadium (radio: 105.9 FM).
Valdosta High didn't show much southern hospitality to the Cherokees last week, sending Kendrick back to Columbus with a 35-0 loss.
One week after playing the state's Class AAAAA No. 2 team in Valdosta, Kendrick returns for another shot, this time at the third-ranked team in the state.
"They've got every intention of coming down here and whipping us," Vikings' head coach Randy McPherson said.
The facts indicate that won't happen. Lowndes (2-0) pounded on Class AAAAA Tri-Cities and Class AAAA Luella to open the season and now a smaller Class AAA Kendrick team comes in to take its swings.
"We're trying to turn a program around," said Kendrick head coach Ahmand Tinker, who points out the Cherokees also play LaGrange and Shaw, Nos. 1 and 2 in AAA. "We got a motto, we'll play anybody, anywhere, anytime. That's the only way to build a program."
The Cherokees have hit a decline the last few seasons, going from 5-5 in 2001 to 3-7 in 2002 and down to 1-9 a year ago. Losing is strange territory for Tinker, who was on the staff of the 2001 LaGrange team that went 14-0 and won a state title.
"This is something new to me," said Tinker, who has just five seniors and over 65 combined freshmen and sophomores. "The only thing we can do is get better."
Kendrick did win a share of the Class AAA state title back in 1991, but has since struggled after moving to AAAA and then back to AAA this season.
"I'm new up here (in Georgia)," McPherson said, "but I know they've had some success."
Kendrick (0-1) struggled in its opener against Valdosta, gaining less than 100 total yards and allowing over 300 rushing yards.
"They didn't have a lot of success (vs. Valdosta)," McPherson said. "I think that's a team that hasn't played its best game yet."
McPherson said Kendrick's defense, the 3-3-5 stack made famous by Camden last year, "flies around the ball." Offensively, the Cherokees run out of the wing-T formation, but also come out occasionally in a spread offense.
Quarterback Allen McCoy, a junior, runs the Kendrick show on offense, with senior fullback Andrae Boone, who carried the load last week against the Wildcats. McCoy's main targets are 6-footers Will Townsend and Courtland Fuller.
Running the ball on Lowndes will be hard sledding again this week for the Cherokees. The Vikings have allowed just 43 rushing yards on 52 carries in two games this season.
The Vikings (2-0) have run for 613 yards in the first two games, handing the ball to 15 different backs. Senior Octavius Everett leads Lowndes with 136 rushing yards on just 11 carries, while his five touchdowns leads Region 1-AAAAA. Freshman Darriet Perry has 108 yards on 13 carries.
Vikings' junior Doug Belk is second in the region with 188 passing yards on 9-of-19 passing attempts. Belk has yet to be sacked. Senior wide receiver Bryan Sermons is also second in receiving yards with 71 yards on three catches.
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