HAHIRA –– It was a good Homecoming night for the Valwood Valiants (6-2, 2-0 Region 3-3A) after they topped Loganville Christian Academy (4-5) in a 47-21 win on Friday.
The Valiants conquered yet another good run offense and proved that stopping the run is no longer a weak spot in their game. They’re now on a five-game winning streak and the team is playing better as the postseason creeps closer.
“I think, if I’ve got a good pulse of the team, I think we’re hitting our stride at the right time,” Valwood head coach Justin Henderson said. “That’s the mark of a champion, those that get better and better as we keep going through the season, and that’s what we did tonight.”
Valwood got on the board first with a Jaheim James fumble recovery for a touchdown. Takeaways have been big for their defense and they finished with two fumble recoveries in the game. They now have 14 total takeaways on the season.
The Valiants didn’t come out guns blazing and started slow, which has almost been routine all season long. But it was the start of a slow and tough grind they were going to put Loganville through. Valwood has been proving they can stop the run yet they also showed that they can run it too.
Running back Blaine Cooper had himself a night for the Valiants. Cooper ran for 135 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries. All three of his touchdowns came in the fourth quarter, extending Valwood’s lead from 28-14 to 47-21 with the help of another James touchdown, this time off a 56-yard catch and run.
The scoreboard was lit up in the second half. The score at half was just 14-7 and Valwood separated themselves in the rest of the game, something they haven’t done much at all this year. It seems like a switch has been flipped for them over the last two games.
For the second week in a row Valwood secured a lead that allowed them put the second and third string players in. After their first six games went to the wire the Valiants are now putting games away by the fourth quarter and there’s been a noticeable change in the team over the last two weeks.
“More leadership,” Valwood receiver Aalah Brown said about the difference in the team now compared to earlier in the season. “Pretty much from everyone. From juniors, sophomores, seniors, everyone’s leading.”
That leadership has the team focused with a strictly business mentality in practice and games. It was visible against Loganville and against Southland Academy.
Other standout players were Brown with six catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. Pate Hogan threw 19/30 for 267 yards and two touchdowns. On defense Tyler Cross racked up eight tackles and Wright Kimbro finished with five tackles and a sack.
Valwood will now gear up for their road trip to play Brookwood in a region matchup. Valwood is 2-0 in the region and Brookwood is 0-3. The Valiants will look to secure a win as Deerfield-Windsor is also 2-0 in the region.