M.L. King coach Michael Carson says his team is looking for more statewide respect tonight when the Lions play at Valdosta in a game between unbeaten teams.
That’s odd that he’d think his team has more to prove because M.L. King is ranked, and Valdosta is not. But Valdosta has won 23 state titles. M.L. King hasn’t won any, nor has any Region 2-AAAAA team in more than 50 years.
“It’s the game everybody has been waiting for at the mid-point,” Carson said. “It’s a well-coached program that’s respected around the country, the winningest in high school football. This game could get us some respect. In fact, they came up here and beat us last year [43-28]. We’re hoping we can return the favor. It’s definitely big for us.”
Valdosta (5-0) reached the quarterfinals last season but isn’t ranked largely because of heavy graduation losses that included all-state receiver Malcolm Mitchell and tight end Jay Rome. Beating M.L. King would certainly put the Wildcats in the rankings.
Meanwhile, M.L. King is viewed as talented but unproven. The team is led by preseason all-state quarterback Jonquel Dawson and wide receiver Blake Tibbs (committed to Georgia) and defensive lineman Kenderius Whitehead, the TD Club of Atlanta player of the week who had five sacks last week.
“A lot of people don’t really respect what we’ve done even though we’re 4-0,” Carson said. “People are questioning the rankings and the caliber of opponents we’ve played and our region. I look at our region and until last week, our region hadn’t lost but five games. That’s impressive, but a lot of people look at that as a weak region.”
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