VALDOSTA -- Please welcome the newest member of South Georgia football: The Meadowcreek Mustangs.

In actuality, Meadowcreek has just disguised itself as a South Georgia team for the first three weeks of the season. Just look its schedule - at Colquitt County to open the season, at Thomas County Central and tonight at Lowndes High for the Vikings' 2004 homecoming game.

Meadowcreek, a Region 8-AAAAA school in Norcross, makes the long trip south again this week, for an 8 p.m. kickoff with the Class AAAAA No. 2 Vikings (3-0) at Martin Stadium (Radio: 105.9 FM).

As a result of the Mustangs' south Georgia roadtrip, Meadowcreek comes into tonight's game 0-2 and, after facing No. 2 Lowndes, the Mustangs finally stay in metro Atlanta to play No. 3 Brookwood.

Meadowcreek may have a few things on its side today, though. Lowndes had two practices canceled earlier this week because of inclement weather and only got in one full-contact practice Wednesday. The Vikings also face their toughest opponent next Friday, hosting Class AAAA No. 4 Ware County.

Regardless, Lowndes head coach Randy McPherson refuses to overlook Meadowcreek, which showed improvement in a 27-12 loss to Thomas County Central last week.

"They seem to be getting better," McPherson said. "They played Thomas County Central awfully tough. If we're not ready to play they can certainly whip us."

Meadowcreek allowed 34 points to Colquitt and 27 to TCC, but McPherson contends the Mustangs' 4-3 defense has been stronger each week. Antonio Forbes, a 6-foot-3, 245 pound lineman, is the cog on the Mustangs' front line.

"Their defensive line comes hard from what the coaches said," Lowndes senior offensive guard Vitas Berrian said. "They come up field fast so we've got to have our pass protection down or they could make a big play."

Lowndes' offense is averaging 385 yards per game, 316 a game on the ground. Vikings' senior fullback Octavius Everett is second in Region 1-AAAAA in rushing with 181 yards on just 19 carries and is first with six touchdowns scored. Colquitt's Kelvin Watts leads the region in rushing with 256 yards.

On offense, Meadowcreek boasts one of the best running backs in Region 8-AAAAA in 6-foot, 180-pound junior Cameron Smith. Smith ran for 880 yards and seven touchdowns last season despite missing three games with a broken hand.

"He's the best running back we've seen this year for sure," McPherson said. "He's a speed guy, but he ain't scared to stick it up in there either."

Of course, Smith will likely face his toughest task this season against the Vikings' run defense. Through three games, Lowndes has allowed just 46 yards on 73 rushing attempts, a .6 yards per carry average. Defensive tackle Devarius Leonard leads the Vikings with three sacks.

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