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Sweet home Alabama

December 9, 2002

Two years after winning a high school state championship at Hoover High in Birmingham, Alabama, Valdosta State defensive coordinator Kevin Shirley is heading back to his home state in search of another title. Valdosta State defensive coordinator Kevin Shirley said, "I had a lot of people call me last week saying 'Kevin, just win one more and we'll be there next week,' so I look to see a lot of faces next week that I haven't seen in a while."

And when Shirley's friends come to watch the Blazers in Florence against Grand Valley State this Saturday, they can expect to see one of the best defenses in the country. "They came out and played. They ran hard, they ran to the ball hard. They did what they were supposed to do," Texas A&M Kingsville running back Larry Williams said.

That response is typical among Blazer opponents, but this past Saturday the Black Swarm was better than ever. Shirley's defense held Texas A&M Kingsville to just 15 yards rushing, and continued to come up with big play after big play. Valdosta State head coach Chris Hatcher said, "He's done a great job. He's the third coordinator we've had in three years. I'm very excited. He gives us the most dynamic scheme that we've had, and the thing about it is I don't know how he gets it all coached to those guys because they come from everywhere."

And although it will be on a much bigger stage than the last title he won in Alabama, Shirley is hoping for the same result this weekend. "To come here and be in year one and have a chance to play for the ultimate crown again, I tell you what, you know the Lord has blessed me," Shirley added.

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