Valdosta beefs up security for Winnersville Classic - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Valdosta beefs up security for Winnersville Classic

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By Alicia Eakin - bio | email

October 9, 2008

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - The biggest football game of the year will be played in Valdosta Friday night and security is being tightened for it.

The Winnersville Classic brings thousands of Vikings and Wildcats fan under the same Friday night lights.

In the past, it's also brought out fights.

But the schools say they have an army of officers to keep the peace and assure every fan can enjoy the game,

Crews are hard at work to prepare Bazemore-Hyder stadium for the annual Winnersville Classic.

The game will be played before a sold out crowd.  "We expect counting the players, band and fans to have about 12,000 people in here," says Martin Roesch, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations for the Valdosta City School System.

With such a passionate group, anything could happen.

"Safety is always a priority."

So the Valdosta City School System has taken their normal security measures.

"At a normal football game we usually have about 28 Valdosta police officers," Roesch says.

And nearly tripled them.

"We have about 35 Valdosta Police officers, 25 sheriff's deputies and 5 state troopers," he adds.

It's a move that has fans cheering.

"I have a daughter that goes to Lowndes and I have a lot of students here that I'll be seeing at the ball game. And it will make me feel safer that all the kids will make it home safe after the ball game and also be back to school Monday morning," says Abraham Clemons, LHS teacher and father.

"Increasing the security would make me feel safer since when you go to Valdosta you have to walk so far to your car. It would make me feel safer walking to my car so I don't feel like I'd get beat up for wearing a Lowndes shirt," adds LHS senior T.J. Sinnott.

But they'll be cheering harder once they pack these stands under the Friday night lights.

ESPNU will also be in town for the third time in four months.

They'll be broadcasting the game live Friday night.

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