VALDOSTA -- Valdosta High football fans excited about Friday's Winnersville Classic came to hear what head coach Rick Darlington had to say about it Wednesday night at his radio show.

Darlington may be a Winnersville rookie, but he's well aware that this game is going to be a big one.

"We've got some good rivalries in Florida, but Valdosta and Lowndes is the biggest rivalry in the Southeast, if not the nation," Darlington said.

A handful of fans came to the Pizza Hut on North Ashley Street Wednesday night. The show is broadcast on WWRQ-FM (107.9) from 7-8 p.m. every Wednesday. Todd McClure hosts the show with Darlington.

One fan asked the coach how excited the players were about the game.

"Well, the kids are excited. It's a big deal to them," Darlington said. "It's about bragging rights. I've heard that if you lose, you have to hear about it for the next 365 days. The coaches might talk about all the region implications, but the kids know what else they're playing for."

Wildcat fans have plenty of animosity towards Lowndes. Just ask 'Cat fan Monty Long.

"If Lowndes was playing against the Taliban, I'd root for the Taliban," Long said.

"I know a lot of people say that if Lowndes isn't playing Valdosta, they'll root for Lowndes, or Lowndes fans say they'll root for Valdosta in their other games. Not me. I always want Lowndes to lose," Long added.

Darlington said he expected the game to be hard-fought and close.

"It's going to be a battle," Darlington said. "Lowndes has got a great team, they're well coached, and they're going to come to play."

Two men with longtime ties to the Valdosta football program said they couldn't wait for Friday night to come. Former Touchdown Club president Ivey Plair Jr. said he's only missed one Winnersville game, while David Waller Sr. has never missed one (he's missed seven Valdosta games the last 57 years).

"I'm excited. I think it's going to be a good game," Waller said.

Wildcat fan Randy Chism said he couldn't wait for the game, that he was probably more excited about it now that his son was playing in it. Chism's son Brett is the Wildcats' starting right guard.

Wildcat fans are urged to arrive at Martin Stadium early, as the parking lots should fill up quickly. Fans will be tailgating before the game in the parking lot.

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