October 5, 2005
Valdosta -- The big game is in Valdosta Friday Night, as number three Lowndes hosts sixth-ranked region foe Valdosta.
This week's game is so huge the defending state champion Vikings are holding closed door practices inside their stadium to keep prying eyes away.
The Vikings fell at Ware County after going undefeated last year, but both schools know not only will the winner of this game be in the driver's seat for the region championship, they'll also own bragging rights.
The rivalry between the Wildcats and Vikings is very important in Valdosta.
"Oh, it's the biggest thing I've ever been a part of, without a doubt. The rivalry itself is big, but then it plays into the region, and I think the winner of this game will have the inside track to the region title," says Valdosta coach Rick Darlington.
Lowndes coach Randy McPherson says, "It's big game, everybody here knows each other. It's a rivalry."
Coach Darlington says owning bragging rights is big.
"You think of it as a one year thing, you get bragging rights for a year, but it's really more of a forever thing."
The loss at Ware County two weeks ago was an unfamiliar experience for Lowndes after going undefeated last season, but coach McPherson says he's happy with the way his team bounced back against Colquitt County last week.
"Our kids responded well, I'm really proud of them, and we're going to have to play our best game this week."
And both coaches say they won't need to tell their players anything special to get ready for Friday.
Darlington says, "Just be calm. Play football. You can't get caught up in the hysteria and the rivalry and this and that."
"We don't really dwell on that during the week. It takes care of itself when the ball is kicked off," adds McPherson.
The Vikings won last years match-up 28-7 on their way to the state championship.
Valdosta visits Lowndes Friday night at 7:30.