Valiants expect 'four-quarter war' against Eagles

September 6, 2018

VALDOSTA –– After walloping Notre Dame Academy to the tune of 35 first-half points last week, the Valwood Valiants (3-0) turn their attention to the North Florida Christian Eagles (1-1) tonight at Goddard Field.

The Valiants scored, scored and scored some more as they led the overmatched Irish 35-0 at halftime last week before pulling their starting units for the second half in a 35-14 rout. 

In the preseason, Valwood coach Justin Henderson said he looked forward to having more input and "sticking his fingers" into the offensive side after four years as the Valiants' defensive coordinator. However, Henderson laughed when asked if he could take any credit for his team's offensive explosion last week.

"How much credit am I gonna take? Zero," Henderson said laughing. "We came up with a game plan to get (Caleb Burns) a lot of high-percentage passes and he converted on them and he got going. I just give credit to good execution on the offense and a good plan."

In terms of blackboard material, Henderson downplayed the notion of revenge, suggesting his team has had tonight's matchup with NFC circled for quite some time.

"All that revenge stuff, that lasts about two plays then you're playing football and calling your offense and calling your defense against what they do," Henderson said after last week's victory. "It will help us in the week of preparation, what happened last year, there's no doubt about that. I think the kids have had this one circled and it'll be a fun week of practice. It won't be one of those weeks of practice where we have to push them to get going. You tell them North Florida and they're ready to go."

Last season, the Valiants faced the Eagles on the road in Tallahassee in a muddy, sloppy affair that saw the Valiants go ahead 13-6 at halftime and lead 13-12 after three quarters before giving up a 28-yard bomb from Trey Fisher that set up a Quan Foster go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

The Valiants struggled offensively, failing to convert on critical third-down situations and put undue pressure on the defense to try to stave off the Eagles' offense, resulting in an 18-13 win for the Eagles.

"Offensively, we had some protection issues, that's for sure," Henderson said of last year's matchup. "I feel like we're much better up front this year than we were last year. On the defensive side of the ball, we gave up some big plays to them last year that killed us. They never drove the length (of the field) on us, it was always a big play...I think more than just third downs, we've talked about finishing the game. They've got great athletes and great players, but if you do a good job of not allowing big plays, you're in good shape...It's gonna be a four-quarter war and we're aware of that."