Valwood football enters 2019 comfortable and confident
HAHIRA –– The night is imminent.
The night where months of dedicated hard work is showcased. Friday night. It marks the start of a new football season for the Valwood Valiants as they’ll kickoff their 2019 season tonight against Bowdon.
2019 marks Justin Henderson’s second year as Valwood’s head coach. He’s now more familiar with what comes with the territory of being head coach after finishing 9-4 and making it to the second round of the playoffs last season.
“I feel more comfortable,” said Henderson about his second year as a head coach. “All the unknowns through the calendar year are on my calendar now. I’ve done everything at least one time through… I can just coach football now.”
Henderson and the Valiants will face up against the Bowdon Red Devils, who will look to get some payback after Valwood squeezed by them in last year’s season opener in a 21-20 win.
Expect Valwood’s game plan to remain similar from last year. They liked to spread the offense and favored the run game but weren’t scared to air it out. Even though they don’t have many returning seniors, most of them, if not all of them are key pieces to the team.
Along with the returning players, the roster added some new faces that are already used to Friday night lights. Some players are transfer students that played ball at their previous school and have already been welcomed as a part of the Valwood family.
“It’s definitely different from Valdosta culture,” said Aalah Brown about transferring to Valwood. “I’m transitioning well, my teammates welcomed me here, the people in the school welcomed me here so it’s going real good… I’m very excited.”
For the Bowdon Red Devils, they’ll have a solid group of seniors surrounding their freshman quarterback this year. Bowdon used a ground and pound style last year where their senior quarterback ran for the bulk of their yards, and this year should have some similarities.
Their freshman quarterback is not scared to run and likes to throw deep. He’ll also have their running back from last year, Ben Fortson, in the backfield for his senior year to help lighten the load. Given last year’s 1-9 finish, it’s safe to say the Red Devils will look to come out to make a statement for their first game of 2019.
Bowdon has already scrimmaged twice this summer, and that’s something that Valwood won’t have the advantage of as they didn’t scrimmage anybody coming into this season, and coach Henderson is aware of this. Therefore, coach and the team have been keen on their preparation this week, trying to limit as many mental mistakes as possible.
But even without scrimmaging and getting a taste of a live game with this roster, the players feel that they’re prepared to take the field.
“I’m feeling confident, real confident,” said starting quarterback Pate Hogan. “I like my guys, I like what we’ve been doing this week, I feel like we’re going to go out there and get the dub.”
There’s truly an aura around this team and it’s felt throughout the players and coaches. They feel that this year could be something very special. Since the beginning of summer, coach Henderson said he’s seen his team get better every day, and whether they say it or not, you can sense that they’re working toward bringing home another state championship.
Kickoff is tonight at 7:30 at Goddard Field.