Tonight’s big Week 2 game is in Valdosta, where No. 1 Lowndes will play No. 3 Peachtree Ridge in a matchup between nationally ranked teams. Lowndes is ranked in four national polls. National Prep Football puts the Vikings at No. 3. Peachtree Ridge is No. 7 in the RivalsHigh 100.
A live broadcast of the game, which starts at 8 p.m., can be found on www.thevikingvoice.com.
GHSF Daily spoke with Peachtree Ridge head coach Bill Ballard on Thursday. Here were his thoughts about …
The best team in the state: “I went to the Corky Kell Classic and watched the teams there, and I’ve seen several on film. I’d have to say Lowndes is probably the best I’ve seen on film, and I would say Grayson is real close. The thing that both have over some other teams is their lines of scrimmage. Both are big and fast on both sides of the ball. That’s an advantage when you have equal skill players. Those are the two best lines I’ve seen on both sides early in the season. I also know Jeff Herron very well, and his team [Camden County] will be reckoned with when it gets later in the season. And I think our region is very strong. Obviously North Gwinnett looked pretty good against Prattville. There’s a lot of teams with potential.”
Tough pre-region games: “It’s kind of like a playoff game, but it doesn’t count as one. It’s a dry run of what it would be like. When I was at Lakeside [of Atlanta in the 1990s], I was with Coach [Phil] Lindsey, and we traveled a couple of times in the playoffs when we hadn’t in the regular season, and we felt like that hurt us going into a small town with a hostile crowd. We felt like we needed to schedule some harder teams. I did that at Tucker. We went to Cairo back-to-back. We looked at some other schools, what Coach Pilcher and Coach Busbee had done [coach Ed Pilcher of Thomas County Central and Bainbridge and coach Buzz Busby of Statesboro]. Those were the kinds of things they did.”
Lowndes’ success: “They’ve got a large student population in place where they really take football seriously and give tremendous support. It’s real important in that town. That school, and Valdosta in the same county, that’s the cornerstone of Georgia high school football. You think about the tradition Valdosta has, and Lowndes has been the one that’s picked up that torch recently. That’s a world of tradition down there.”
Region 1-AAAAA: “Football in Region 1-AAAAA is probably the best region in the state traditionally. If you’re going to win state, you’ve got to go through 1-AAAAA at some point.”
Peachtree Ridge 2008 vs. 2009: “I wouldn’t’ say we’re better, but in this point in the season, we’re ahead of where we were. That has a lot to do with having a lot more experience playing. We have a heavy senior class. Last year, we had good players, but a smaller senior class. The majority of our starters now are seniors. We’ve got players coming back who have played a lot of games. They’re experienced these kinds of games.”
National rankings: “That’s nice that people around the country are thinking about Peachtree Ridge and Lowndes and Georgia in general. People recognize that Georgia football is on the top level of states. It’s good because college coaches come in to see our players and programs, and it’s going to allow more of our kids to use football as a vehicle to get a degree, and that’s what we’re really here for.”
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