Sep. 23—The Valdosta Wildcats (5-0) pitched its second consecutive shutout in a 56-0 rout of Coral Glades in Week 5.
The victory moved the 'Cats up to No. 8 in this week's state rankings according to Georgia High School Football Daily.
In their final test before region play, Valdosta hosts Region 3-7A McEachern at 8 p.m.
Let's get right into it...
1) Locked in
Valdosta put together its most focused effort on both sides of the ball all season in last's week win over Coral Glades.
Offensively, the 56 points were a season-high — 49 of which came in the first half.
Sophomore quarterback Todd Robinson played his best game as a Wildcat with five total touchdowns, 134 yards passing and 131 yards rushing.
As they've done all season, the 'Cats ran the ball effectively with 20 carries for 246 yards and four touchdowns.
Overall, the 'Cats rang up 482 yards of total offense.
Defensively, the 'Cats allowed a season-low 31 total yards to the Jaguars.
For the second straight week, the Valdosta defense held its opponent to negative yards rushing as Coral Glades had 26 carries for -30 yards. The longest rush Valdosta allowed all game went for 5 yards.
Senior linebacker Jarius Curry led the team with nine total tackles and two tackles for loss last week. Junior defensive tackle Omar White added six tackles, three of them going for losses. Nehemiah Dennis and TJ Morrison had five tackles each, with Morrison notching two tackles for loss.
As a team, Valdosta finished with 13 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and three quarterback hurries.
By the numbers, Valdosta currently leads Class 7A in fewest points allowed at 3 per game. The 'Cats have 17.5 sacks, 28 quarterback hurries, 10 interceptions, nine passes defensed and three fumble recoveries.
2) Homecoming King
Senior cornerback Tim Roberson — a Extra Points staple so far this season — was named Homecoming King last week.
Roberson has solidified himself as one of the best ever to play at Valdosta with the season he's put together already. He snagged another interception in the win over Coral Glades — giving him six on the season and at least one pick in each of the first five games.
With five games left in the regular season, Roberson sits two interceptions shy of tying the single-season record of eight set by Derek Shaw.
It's crazy to think about this, but if he manages to keep up his current pace, Roberson could threaten or legitimately surpass Shaw's career interception record of 13...in one season.
3) Who is McEachern?
The McEachern Indians come into tonight's contest with a 3-2 record — quite deceptive upon a closer glance as they dropped their first two games before reeling off three straight.
McEachern smashed Region 4-5A Tucker 51-20 last week.
Senior running back Jaylon Brown led the way with 25 carries for 204 yards and two touchdowns. As a team, McEachern ran the ball 50 times for 362 yards and four touchdowns.
Junior quarterback Jaydon Kinney accounted for three total touchdowns against Tucker — throwing a pair of strikes to senior wide out Savion West and junior RJ Echols as well as calling his own number for a rushing touchdown in the game.
Defensively, the 20 points McEachern allowed to Tucker were a season-low.
While the Indians can score (31.6 points per game), they've struggled keeping their opponents from doing so — allowing 30.2 points per game.
4) Can the Indians expose any weaknesses?
Through five games, the 'Cats have only allowed two rushing touchdowns — one late against North Miami and another against Cook in Week 2.
More impressively, for the season, Valdosta has defended 146 rush attempts and given up just 101 yards. In three of the first five games, Valdosta has not yielded positive yardage.
McEachern has the personnel to test Valdosta's vaunted rush defense with Brown, who has four 100-yard rushing games and seven touchdowns this season. He averages 160.4 yards rushing per game.
Kinney isn't exactly a prolific passer, but he's thrown for 966 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception. Against a Valdosta defense that likes to ball hawk, it'll be interesting to see how many shots the Indians take downfield.
Junior linebacker Andrew Ruffin leads the team with 31 total tackles and four quarterback hurries. He also has three tackles for loss and three sacks. Middle linebacker Matthew Draper has a team-leading four sacks this season.
The Indians have only three interceptions this season. Junior cornerback Daniel James is the team's top defender against the pass with six passes defensed.
Valdosta looked to take some shots against Coral Glades and had success. Valdosta's use of the passing game will be something to watch tonight.
5) Can Valdosta stay perfect?
Valdosta is 5-0 all-time against McEachern.
The last meeting between the two teams came on Nov. 19, 2010 — a game the 'Cats won 31-28.
In the five meetings, Valdosta has averaged 26.4 points per game while allowing just 9.6 to the Indians.
Most famously, the two teams clashed in the 1998 Class 4A State Championship game with Valdosta defeating McEachern 21-7 — Valdosta's last state championship until 2016.
Kickoff for tonight's game is scheduled for 8 p.m.
Shane Thomas is the sports editor at the Valdosta Daily Times.