Sep. 16—VALDOSTA — After an impressive performance against Warner Robins last week, Valdosta High defensive end Eric Brantley Jr. was named Georgia High School Football Daily Player of the Week on Wednesday.
Entering the gym to a rousing performance by the VHS drum line through a small tunnel of cheerleaders, the junior defensive force accepted a plaque from GHSF representative Ted Langford.
Against Warner Robins, Brantley had seven total tackles with six solo stops, four tackles for loss, six QB hurries and two sacks. He also had time for five carries for 22 yards and a touchdown on offense. Brantley leads the team with six touchdowns in the first four games.
"It feels great," Brantley said. "(My play) has affected the team greatly — being able to play both sides of the ball and help us win games. Getting defensive stops and getting in the red zone to score, it helps us out a lot."
Brantley and the 'Cats are 4-0 heading into this week's matchup against Coral Glades (Fla.).
Valdosta High head coach Shelton Felton spoke about Brantley's Player of the Week honor after the ceremony.
"It's a good thing for him to get the honor," Valdosta High head coach Shelton Felton said. "He works hard. He's a great player. It's always good for kids to get recognized, especially at Valdosta. It brings a positive light to Valdosta after all the things we've been going through. It's showing that there's still some good football in Valdosta."
Though Brantley was recognized, Langford also gave recognition to other players that had strong performances against Warner Robins such as defensivee lineman Omar White, cornerback Tim Roberson, wide receiver Jalen Whitehead, running back Charles Williams, defensive lineman T.J. Morrison, linebacker Jarius Curry, linebacker Amari Tomblin and kicker Antonio Zapata.
"One thing we talk about is playing team ball and playing within a system and those guys are making plays within the system," Felton said. "You've got Omar White, Tim Roberson, Amari Tomblin. You've got other guys — T.J. Morrison, Curry. A lot of those guys could be Player of the Week, but we keep playing together as a team. There's no I in this defense. We play together and if you play within the system and a play presents itself, you'll make the plays you're supposed to make."
Earning their first shutout against the defending Class 5A state champions last week, Felton was pleased with how his team showed up and took care of business.
"That was a test and you hear the naysayers saying we haven't played anybody so we wanted to play who we played," Felton said. "I tell the kids, control the controllables — control who you play, you can only play who's on the schedule. To go out there and dominate the way we did and play great defense is always good because a lot of people don't realize we've only got three returning starters out of 22. So to see those young guys get out there and play physical football against a great Warner Robins team, it's a great confidence boost going into the meat of our schedule."
Shane Thomas is the sports editor at the Valdosta Daily Times.