The Valdosta Daily Times
A win tonight and the Valwood Valiants will be able to mark off a few tasks from their to-do list this season — finish the regular season undefeated and as outright region champions.
“The Thursday before our camp ended, we had our guys come in and set some goals for the season, and that is definitely one of them,” Valwood head coach Ashley Henderson said. “That is one of our short-term goals. It is nice that our seniors have the chance to obtain that.”
The Valiants can secure the outright GISA Region 3-AA championship with a win over rival Southwest Georgia Academy tonight in Damascus. The task, according to Henderson, won’t be easy.
“Coach (David) Bell does an outstanding job with those guys,” Henderson said. “He has been there for a while, and he knows what buttons to push to get those guys ready to play, especially when they play Valwood.”
Valwood clinched a share of the region championship last week with a 35-0 blowout win over Brookwood.
“It was really good to shut them out,” Henderson said of last week’s win over Brookwood. “We have given up some points with our younger kids at the end of games, and they got in and competed and held the shutout. It was really nice, and nice to see the starters encourage the younger guys to hold the shutout.”
Southwest Georgia was beaten by Westwood last week, the Warriors’ first and only region loss this season.
A Southwest Georgia victory tonight would create chaos inside the region. Valwood, Southwest Georgia and Westwood would all share the region championship and seeding in the playoffs would be decided by various tie-breakers, including points each team allowed to the other co-champions in the first half of their given games against each other.
None of the various tie-breakers will matter, though, if the Valiants take care of their business tonight.
Recently, Southwest Georgia has been the Achilles heel of Valwood. The Warriors own a six-game winning streak over the Valiants, including a 20-17 win last year in Valdosta.
“From what I saw, they controlled the game and they hit Valwood for a couple big pass plays,” Henderson said. “They won the battle of the turnovers, and won the kicking game. In close region games, that usually does it.”
Offensively, the Warriors line up in a wishbone-style offense and are primarily a power-run based offense, featuring two tight ends and three running backs.
“They try to knock you off the ball, and want to control the ball,” Henderson said. “They have a great running back — Will Warren is his name — and he ran for like 300 yards against Sherwood Christian. And their quarterback makes good decisions. He is Coach Bell’s son, and he doesn’t make many mistakes. They don’t beat themselves.”
On defense, Henderson said Southwest Georgia makes its opponents earn everything. The Warriors are allowing 20 points per game, but have allowed 34 or more points in three games this year, including 38 to Westfield.
“The games we have seen, we haven’t seen many big plays,” Henderson said. “They gave up a big fake punt against Sherwood (Christian) and they made Westwood earn everything they got. It was all drives, and there weren’t a lot of big plays.”
Tonight’s game can be heard on The Jock 1150 AM and 96.1 FM.