When it comes to history, existence is impossible without knowledge. Acknowledging and learning from the past helps us to appreciate the present and plan for the future. Valdosta, Georgia, is a city that is rich in heritage and legacy, especially in the world of football. Numerous championships, legendary coaches, and a long-standing, loyal fan base are just a few of things that make “Titletown, USA” such an accurate moniker.
Knowledge is power, and Valdosta High School quarterback Seth Shuman is one powerful individual on the gridiron.
“I take pride in knowing what’s going on out there,” Seth says. “I know the plays, and I know what to do if things need to change. It’s a good feeling to be able to help the younger guys when things get hectic, or even in practice when they’re trying to get things together.”
It is that same knowledge and dedication that has allowed Seth to lead the Wildcats to a current record of 4-1 on the year. The team is firing on all cylinders; their four victories have come by an average of 36 points per game. And while there is a negative mark in the loss column, it was a narrow one. In the opening week, Valdosta fell to Norcross by only three points (34-31).
“I’ve learned that, no matter how big or small a defeat is, you can’t let it take your mind away from what needs to be done,” Seth says. “Everybody is going to lose games. Everybody is going to make mistakes. But it’s all about what you do afterwards that defines you. As the leader, I can’t let my teammates see me get rattled if I make a mistake. I own up to it, I set my mind on fixing it, and I move on.”
Seth is in the midst of his final season as the quarterback of the Wildcats, and his third as a starter. He has taken the team to impressive heights; in 2014, the Wildcats finished 9-1 on the regular season (their only loss was to the eventual state-champion Colquitt County Packers). And although their championship hopes ended in the first round of the GHSA Class AAAAAA State Playoffs in a 27-14 loss to Newton (Covington, Ga.), their nine victories matched their highest regular-season win total since 2010.
He is the last link in a family full of athletic ability and talent. His father, Bart, is currently the head baseball coach, assistant athletic director, and ninth-grade head football coach at Valdosta High. He has a coaching resume that many can only dream to compile; in his 30-plus years as a coach, he has led the Wildcats’ baseball team to three region championships, two state semifinal appearances, and four state quarterfinal appearances. Prior to working at VHS, he served at Berrien High School (Nashville, Ga.), where, in 1988, he led the baseball team to a perfect 31-0 record and a state title.
His brother, Scott, is a former Valdosta High and Tift County quarterback; after completing his high school football and baseball careers (he excelled as a shortshop and pitcher), he received a scholarship from Auburn University and was also drafted in the 23rd round of the MLB Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. Rounding out the family is their sister, Sloan, who was a cheerleader for Valdosta State University.
“He’s quiet,” says Bart, Seth’s father. “He doesn’t get upset easily. I really admire his composure; he’s tremendous at dealing with pressure. He’s always been that way. I really appreciate his patience; he won’t rush anything that doesn’t require it. He’s take his time, and he makes sure that things are done the right way.”
Just as the Shuman name is synonymous with success in South Georgia, Seth is at the focal point, position-wise, of the most storied high school football program in the nation. And, although he handles the pressure like a champion, he still can’t help but acknowledge the excitement that comes from rivalry games, especially the Winnersville Classic.
“My greatest moment as a Wildcat would have to be beating Lowndes (High School) last year,” he says. “We hadn’t beaten them yet in my high school career, and that rivalry is a big deal. There’s much more on the line in that game than a win or loss. Winning a game with that kind of significance is something you’ll remember the rest of your life.”
While his senior year is far from over, Seth is the type of young man that understands that the future is not far away. He is undecided as to which college he will attend, but he is leaning towards a career in education. He has also not ruled out the potential of coaching. But, for now, his focus is geared toward adding to the legacy that is enshrined within the confines of Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
“There is such a high standard at this school,” he says. “Being a Wildcat is an honor in itself, but to be a football player here, people just look up to you. People on campus, in the community, everywhere…it’s a terrific feeling, and I just want to make this school, and this city, proud.”
If the remainder of his final season is anything like the first half, Valdosta fans should be talking about Seth for years to come. His outstanding ability is enough on its own, but according to the senior under center, the idea of the “team” cannot, and absolutely should not, be ignored simply for his sake.
“I definitely can’t do it alone,” he says. “Credit has to be given where it’s due. My teammates have been exceptional this year, and I really appreciate them for their hard work and dedication to our season. I have to give a special shoutout to my offensive linemen, receivers, and running backs. They have been giving it their all this year, and none of this would be possible without their effort.”
Aside from the football field, Seth is also an exceptional baseball player for the Wildcats. An All-Region pitcher and infielder, he pitched 61 innings in his junior season, accumulating a 2.21 ERA (striking out 71 batters while only walking 14), while finishing with a .272 batting average (along with 23 runs and 26 RBIs). He has not decided which sport he will pursue in college. “Education is first,” he says. “I love both sports, but I would have to see which one brings me the biggest offer.”
South Georgia / November 2015
Valdosta High School
Senior Signal-Caller Shines in the Spotlight
Photography by Micki K Photography
By James Washington