The Valdosta Daily Times
The Valdosta Wildcats are trying to prepare for this Friday’s game just like they would any other game, even though they know this is hardly an ordinary game week.
The Winnersville Classic is only two days away, and the Valdosta football team is doing everything it can to get ready to play archrival Lowndes.
The Wildcats (3-2) clash with the fourth-ranked Vikings (5-0) for the 51st time on Friday at 8 p.m. at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
“As far as preparation, it’s really not (any different). As far as all the stuff that goes along with this week, there’s no question it is (different),” Valdosta head coach Rance Gillespie said on Tuesday.
This is the first time in several years that Valdosta has had an off week before playing Lowndes. The Wildcats used their off week last week to work on getting better as a football team.
“I thought we had a good week,” Gillespie said. “We had two days that were a lot like spring practice, where we went against each other and (had) a lot more contact, were a little more physical than (we typically are) this time of year. We really kind of (worked on) some fundamentals, and tried to get better as a football team.”
They also spent a couple of days preparing to face Lowndes.
“We spent two full days of practice concentrating on them,” Gillespie said. “The first day was really just our base stuff against their base looks. The second day was more a little bit of some game plan stuff.”
Valdosta will be facing a wing-T offense for the second consecutive game. Camden County, the Wildcats’ last opponent, ran the same offense, although Camden’s version of the offense is slightly different than Lowndes’ (Camden almost always uses two wingbacks and a fullback, while the Vikings usually play with a halfback, a fullback and a wingback).
“They’re actually pretty different,” Gillespie said. “(Lowndes doesn’t) run a ton of bucksweep, they run power sweep and they run power and they run trap. They run a little counter or Sally play. That’s kind of what they hang their hat on. And those backs are really good.”
All of Valdosta’s players are healthy and expected to play on Friday night.
“I don’t think we have any injuries that are significant at this point,” Gillespie said. “Last week, there were a couple of them that we kind of put on the shelf more than others and let them get healed up. (The off week) allowed us to do that.
“Most of the kids on these two football teams would have to have a bone hanging out for them not to play.”
Valdosta has won 33 of its previous 50 games against Lowndes. The Wildcats won last year’s game 21-17.
Valdosta has around 500 tickets left for the Winnersville Classic.
Those tickets will go on sale when the VHS ticket office opens today at 8:30 a.m. Tickets are $8 each.
Anyone who wants to purchase tickets is advised to get to the ticket office as early as possible today. A few fans got in line in front of Valdosta’s ticket office as early as 7 p.m. on Tuesday night, and more fans will likely be arriving hours before the ticket office opens this morning.
Lowndes has sold its entire allotment of tickets.