VALDOSTA – The Valwood Valiants have raced out to a perfect 5-0 record to start the season.
Tonight the Southwest Georgia Warriors (3-1) will get a chance to hand the Valiants their first blemish of the year as they visit Goddard Field for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
“It is a big rivalry for us,” Valwood head coach Brannon Tidwell said. “We’re real excited for this game, and it is the kind of game you want to coach in. So, we’re excited.”
Last season, the Warriors handed the Valiants their first loss of the season, pulling away for a 35-21 victory in Damascus. The loss was Valwood’s 14th overall, and fifth straight, loss to Southwest Georgia; with Valwood’s last win in the series coming in 2005.
“It is kind of a get over the hump game,” Tidwell said. “If we want to keep our program the way it is going, then we have to beat these guys.”
The Valiants were able to have a full week of practice to prepare for tonight. Last week, nine players came down with an illness which forced Tidwell to cancel a practice.
Illness or not, the Valiants secured a region win over Heritage Academy.
“It is a lot better and I feel a lot better (this week),” Tidwell said. “Last week, I didn’t feel real great because we missed a practice, but this week I feel a lot better.”
As for the Warriors, tonight will mark their first game since Sept. 9, when they blew out Randolph Southern, 48-0. The Warriors lone loss on the season came on Aug. 25, losing to the Westwood School 40-27.
Offensively, the Warriors line up in a spread offense, as the offense is run through quarterback Dillion Drive.
“(Dillion) is a big weapon,” Tidwell said. “He likes to run and throw the ball. They have a lot of weapons.”
Defensively, the Warrior defense will have to deal with slowing down the Valwood offense, which can strike at any minute with players like Khary Paige, Troy Woodward, Rashad Mathis and quarterback Jake Lastinger.
“From the very beginning it is going to be a battle, all 48 minutes,” Tidwell said. “The winner is going to have a huge edge in the region. They’re going to be two games up on the other team.”
Valwood’s scoring doesn’t just come from the offensive side of the ball. The Valiants are able to score with their defense and special teams, leading to the Valiants scoring an average of 54 points per game.
“We try to teach on everything we do — lets create turnovers, lets scoop-and-score or lets get a pick six,” Tidwell said. “We always want to score, but I don’t know if it is going to be a big factor on (tonight).”
Tonight’s game will air on 1150 AM and 96.1 FM.