Henderson touts Valwood's strength of schedule

August 4, 2018

VALDOSTA — New Valwood football coach Justin Henderson touted the program’s strength of schedule and mentioned a focus on fortifying the team's mental toughness during his time at the podium, beginning ITG Next Media Day on Saturday morning.

After opening the season on the road against Bowdon, Valwood faces Frederica Academy in a rematch of last year’s semifinal round of the GISA Class 3A state playoffs. The Valiants host Notre Dame and North Florida Christian before visiting Heritage ahead of GISA Region 3-AAA play.

“We’ll find out more of what we have when we get through those games,” Henderson said.

Frederica returns a pair of four-star athletes — Jashawn Sheffield and Jaylin Simpson — committed to Auburn. Sheffield, a wide receiver, committed in June, becoming the 12th of the 2019 class. Simpson, a defensive back, committed to Auburn in April.

Valwood’s bye week comes Sept. 21 before beginning region play against Tiftarea Academy on Oct. 5. Creekside visits for homecoming and a road trip to Loganville Christian, a team the Valiants have often battled in the postseason, completes the non-region slate.

Ashton Moorman, a three-year starter, is among the returning offensive line players. Cam Carter and Willie Roberson return as running backs.

Senior Caleb Burns returns at quarterback and another leader for the offense.

“We don’t huddle, but he’s like having another coach on the field,” Henderson said.

Seniors Eli Joyner and Ray Gordon are a pair of returning defensive ends Henderson said will be good at helping force runners outside, where the linebackers can use their speed to stop the run. Roberson and Carter will play in the middle of the defense.

As training camp continues, Henderson said fortifying mental toughness will be among his concerns moving forward.

“One thing I saw this week was we still have to learn how to fight through things whenever we’re getting pushed, physically,” the coach said. “And when things aren’t necessarily going our way, what are you going to do? Are you going to poke your lip out or are you going to fight through for your teammates?”