VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - For the final time before the July 4th holiday, the Valdosta Wildcats battle the summer heat in Titletown.
First year head coach Alan Rodemaker wants his new offense as mastered as possible before the Cats take on some of the country's best at the 7-on-7 national championships in Hoover, Alabama next month.
"I think if I told them we couldn't go they'd kill me," Rodemaker laughs. "When something's on the line, our team seems to pick up their level of play."
The Wildcats earned a spot in Hoover by finishing as runners-up at the regional tournament in Marietta last weekend.
Competition is the theme this summer. Not just internally either. The Wildcats have been busy this offseason taking on all challengers.
"I think we've played 38 teams in the last two weeks," Rodemaker notes. "38 different teams."
"Competition is everything," says senior WR J.R. Ingram. "We've got to go get better, and hope those teams are better so we can get better."
As the Cats prepare for the nation's best in Hoover, Rodemaker says the 7 on 7 competitions are helping his team grasp the new offense, especially at wide out where Valdosta is breaking in several new players.
"We've got three or four brand new wideouts that didn't play the position last year, or didn't play at all," Rodemaker says. "I think receivers and our quarterbacks have made the biggest gains in the 7-on-7s."
For a team with a new coach in a new region, the Cats hope their summer competition will help bring veteran experience on Friday nights.
Valdosta opens the season against archrival Lowndes at home on August 19.