“I think our guys are feeling really good. They’re excited about the opportunity of having a big game here on campus. It’s homecoming and they know it’s going to be a big crowd. They’re going to be real excited about playing,” noted West Georgia coach Daryl Dickey.
Both the Wolves (2-2, 0-1 GSC) and Blazers (3-2, 0-1) enter play in a precarious position this afternoon, where an 0-2 start in league action would really put them behind the 8-ball in the conference standings.
It’s something that hasn’t been lost on Dickey and the UWG players after suffering a 24-20 setback at No. 18 West Alabama last week. VSU’s conference loss also came at the hands of the Tigers, a 39-28 decision on Sept. 22. The Blazers bounced back with a 58-10 rout of NAIA program Edward Waters last week.
“We both had a couple of tough ball games we’re trying to get behind us. You know, certainly the winner of this game is in a lot better position to move forward in the conference and the loser is going to be behind. There’s no question about that. But this is a tough conference. There’s a lot of really good football teams, and there’s two good football teams that will be playing here [Saturday],” Dickey said.
Of course, the Wolves recorded the big signature victory last year in Valdosta, winning a 23-20 thriller at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium to bring the Peach Basket back to Carrollton for the first time since 2005.
Now the focus is keeping the treasured prize of the in-state rivalry in good hands for at least another 12 months.
“It’s been an honor to have it here. There’s no question about that. We know that it’s a symbol of us winning that football game and having bragging rights over it for a year. I know that they want it back down there in Valdosta, but we certainly want to keep it here and I think our kids are excited about playing,” Dickey said.
VSU leapfrogged West Georgia as the league’s top scoring offense (43.0 points per game) and in total offense (478.4 yards) last week behind the GSC’s top-rated passing attack from dual quarterbacks Graham Craig and Cayden Cochran. Meanwhile, junior wideout Gerald Ford tops the GSC in receptions (25), receiving yards (446) and receiving touchdowns (7) and the Blazers also have a pair of talented freshman running backs in Austin Scott and Cedric O’Neal, who rank second and third in the conference, respectively, in yards per game.
But with a blockbuster of a ball game on tap this afternoon, it won’t take much to get the blood boiling come kickoff.
“That’s exactly right. We haven’t had much problem motivating them this week. Our kids have worked hard. We had a tough loss last week — there’s no question about that — but they’ve put that behind them and they know they’re a good football team. We’re going to have to play well Saturday to have a chance to be successful,” Dickey said.