Valiants duel with Raiders in region clash

October 11, 2018

VALDOSTA –– The Valwood Valiants (5-2, 0-1 Region 3-3A) rediscovered their running game in a 27-0 rout of Creekside Christian at home last week.

Though many games in South Georgia were postponed due to Hurricane Michael, the Valiants go for their first region win against the Southland Academy Raiders (5-1, 1-0) tonight in Americus.

Against Creekside, the Valiants demonstrated sound balance between the run and the pass, throwing the ball 20 times and running 27 times. The combination yielded success as Valwood amassed 262 yards of total offense, rushing for three touchdowns and throwing for another in its first shutout win of the season.

Valwood will need to produce more of the same against the Raiders, who come into tonight's contest behind a 30-20 victory against Brookwood last week. The Raiders' defense is holding teams to just 12.6 points per game through the first six games, while their offense is scoring more than 29 points per game during the same stretch. Despite the storm, Valwood coach Justin Henderson says his team was largely unaffected in practice this week.

"We got lucky," Henderson said. "There are teams with a lot worse damage than us. I actually haven't heard anything other than a couple power outages with our team. We practiced Wednesday and Thursday like it was nothing. We didn't have school, but we were okay. I've heard up there in Americus, they got a bad portion of the storm. I hope they're okay but they're still wanting to play the game so we'll be there."

Avoiding another loss in region play has been a point of emphasis for the Valiants. Valwood has not started 0-2 in region play since 2008 under coach Patrick Mike when the school played in Region 3-2A. In fact, Valwood's loss to Southland last season was its lone region blemish as the team still won the region title and went on to win state. With Tiftarea much improved and Southland opening strong out of the gate, tonight's game could go a long way in terms of seeing where the Valiants stand in Region 3-3A.

The funny thing about the region, even though we got blown out by Tiftarea, I feel like we're all pretty close together," Henderson said. "We're all similar communities, similar schools, similar football teams, so every region game is gonna be a fight. There's not gonna be an easy one. Southland's coming this week and they love to run the ball––power down your throat and if we're not ready, we're gonna be in trouble. If we are, then they've got things they can do that can also give us problems, too. So we've got to be prepared, just like any other game.

"How well we play is how well we'll stack up. If we play great, then we'll have a chance to win the game. If we don't, we'll be hoping to hold on."