VALDOSTA -- It's playoff time for Winnersville's two high school teams.
Region champion Valdosta (7-3) opens the playoffs against Riverdale, the third consecutive year the Wildcats have met the Raiders at Cleveland Field. No. 2 seed Lowndes (8-2) hosts East Coweta, a semifinalist a year ago. Tickets are on sale at the schools' ticket offices.
Both teams enter the playoffs coming off victories. The Wildcats rallied with two fourth quarter touchdowns to defeat Coffee 25-19 last Friday, while Lowndes jumped out to a 35-0 halftime lead in route to a 41-14 win over Lee County.
Now they're focused on the playoffs.
"We've been working on Riverdale, getting ready for them," Wildcat head coach Rick Darlington said.
"We'll get back to work Monday, getting ready for East Coweta," said Lowndes head coach Randy McPherson after the Lee County victory.
Valdosta knows its opponent well, because no matter what Riverdale tries, it can't seem to escape the Wildcats once the playoffs start. In 2001, the Raiders made a second-round trip to Valdosta the day after Thanksgiving, where the Wildcats won 17-6 en route to making it to the Georgia Dome and the state semifinals. Last year, Riverdale earned Region 4's third seed, and made a first-round trip to Cleveland Field, where they lost 7-0. Now the Raiders are the fourth seed, but again, that means a trip to Valdosta.
"We've played them the last two years, and now we get them again," Darlington said, with a tape of last year's game sitting on his desk.
Lowndes knows it will have to be wary of East Coweta. It need only ask region rival Coffee why. Last year, Coffee went into the playoffs riding high after earning a share of the region title, its first ever. Then East Coweta came to town, with only a 5-5 record, and hammered the Trojans, 31-9.
The Indians must have played possum during the regular season, because they followed the Coffee win with wins over Warner Robins and Harrison to make it to the Dome.
"We're ready for the playoffs," McPherson said.
Lowndes won't be able to say it doesn't know much about East Coweta's offense. Like the Vikings, the Indians run the wing-T. East Coweta head coach Danny Cronic has been around a long time, and has shown he knows how to win the playoffs.
Ticket info: Tickets for Friday night's games can be purchased at the schools' respective ticket offices.
Valdosta season ticket holders who still have not purchased tickets for Friday's game have until noon today to purchase tickets for their seats. After that, the tickets will go on sale to the general public. Tickets are $7 in advance, $8 at the gate. Student tickets ($5) may be purchased at the high school and the middle schools.
At Lowndes, any tickets not purchased by season ticket holders go on sale to the public at 9 a.m. today. Tickets cost $7 for adults, $5 for students, and will be sold at the Lowndes High ticket office from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
The office is at the Lowndes Board of Education office off Norman Drive, south of Lowndes High.
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