August 15, 2006
Valdosta -- The winningest high school football program in the nation might be getting a little impatient.
It's been eight years since Valdosta won a state championship, and the Wildcats have seen their cross-town rival Lowndes win the last two state titles.
The Cats bring in a new coach well-versed win the Winnersville rivalry this season, and expectations remain high.
Rick Tomberlin coached three seasons at Lowndes, before being let go in 1991.
He's now back in Valdosta, and will lead the Wildcats this season.
Tomberlin says success will not come easy.
"Our region, Region 1-AAAAA might be the toughest in country," says Tomberlin. "Probably is. And everybody in there is good. Everybody is real good, and we're all close in terms of ability."
Junior Michael Turner says, "It's a tough schedule every year, when you think about it, so we just go out and play."
Turner says there's one game on the schedule Valdosta football fans will circle every year.
"Winnersville is always a big game," says Turner with a smile. "Lowndes and Valdosta, that's always the biggest game of the year."
"They're all important," adds Tomberlin. "That's a big one. I mean, it's big, we want to win it. But we don't look at them as the enemy. They're just another great team we play that we have to beat to accomplish our goals."
The Wildcats say they're focused on their rapidly-approaching first game of the season at home against a team from Utah, and are taking aim at a 24th state championship.
Tomberlin says, "We've got high expectations. Expectations are very high in Valdosta. We certainly want to be a playoff team. We certainly would like to win the region, have an opportunity to go deep in the playoffs and play for the state championship."
Turner says, "The team looks excellent. The defense is running to the ball, the offense is making plays. It's all coming together, and once that happens, nobody can stop us."
Valdosta has fallen to Lowndes the past two seasons in the Winnersville match-up.
The Wildcats open their season September first at home against Jordan from Utah.