VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - If the preseason polls are to be believed, the Valdosta Wildcats should be pretty good in 2016.
New head coach Alan Rodemaker is probably much more concerned about other things though. The Wildcats rank 7th in the preseason Class AAAAAA polls, but Rodemaker still feels his team has a lot of growing to do.
The Cats will look differently on offense in 2016. With star QB Seth Shuman now at Georgia Southern, Rodemaker says the Wildcats will be dead set on running the ball more than in recent years. That includes some spread principles, but he adds the offense will run out of multiple sets.
He says the novelty of the system still has players learning and adjusting. That's his main concern with just a few days before kickoff against archrival Lowndes.
"I think they're doing a great job. The newness of it, throughout our whole system and feeder programs, is the big deal," Rodemaker says. "I think we're progressing great, but it's still new."
Only five starters return offensively for the Wildcats, including three on the offensive line. Rodemaker believes the big boys up front will be units to lean on in 2016.
"[Coach Nick] Hyder, [Coach Jack] Rudolph, and [Coach Lee] Tarpley used to talk about your best players are closest to the ball," Rodemaker notes. "If that's true, then we'll have a good football team. I feel like both lines of scrimmage are better than I thought they'd be at this point."
Valdosta opens the season with the annual Winnersville Classic, hosting Lowndes. With just one win, the Wildcats will claim the program's 900th victory.