Their defense won them the state title in 2016, now it is time to defend it.
The Valdosta Wildcats surged back to prominence last season with the historic program’s 900th win (over rival Lowndes) and 24th state championship, all under a first year head coach.
Now entering into his second year, head coach Alan Rodemaker has yet another seemingly insurmountable challenge before him: sustaining that standard of success.
With only four returning starters on each side of the ball, the Wildcats will need to develop, and quickly. With a schedule that challenges the best of region one in both AAAAAAA and AAAAAA, the Wildcats will once again set out to prove that they can compete with the best that Georgia has to offer.
“One of the things I believe is that you need to challenge your football team,” Rodemaker said. “Our schedule was the toughest in the state last year, and it is certainly going to challenge us again.”
Some of the few sources of solidarity surrounding this young team come from their senior captains. The spotlight will shine brightest on Zakoby McClain at linebacker and Hunter Holt at quarterback, both of which will carry a larger load as the younger players develop, especially on the lines.
But the best news is that raw talent never was and still isn’t the primary trait that Coach Rodemaker attributed their success to and will now seek to replicate.
“I really think the state championship was a by-product of just great character on our football team,” said Rodemaker. “We were a very discipline football team.”
The scary part for the rest of Georgia and beyond? According to Rodemaker, despite coming off of a state championship, “We are still in a building process with this program.”
In the Game Magazine / South Georgia / August – September 2017
Wildcats Embrace the Defense of their Title
Written by Cole Parker
Photos by Mike Chapman