July 29, 2004
Valdosta - North Alabama last year denied Valdosta State what would have been a record fourth straight Gulf South Conference championship.
Head coaches in the conference believe the road to the Gulf South title still runs through Valdosta.
For the fourth straight year, Valdosta State is the preseason pick of the league's coaches to win the Gulf South Conference title.
The voting though was much closer than in the other three years with the Blazers getting five first place and five second place votes to finish just ahead of Delta State.
Defending conference champion North Alabama is picked to finish third behind the Blazers and Statesmen.
Valdosta State has won 46 games and three Gulf South titles in coach Chris Hatcher's first four seasons and that past success has contributed to the lofty preseason ranking this year.
The reality is Valdosta State returns only six starters but coach Hatcher says the goal at VSU is always to in the conference title.
Chris Hatcher said "I think we had a little sense of urgency in the offseason because we didn't win the conference last year and that is something that we definitely want to get that conference championship belt back this year."
The Valdosta State football team will report on Tuesday and the first practice is Thursday.
The Blazers first game is September 4th at Albany State.
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