50 in 50: Lowndes

Lowndes was 9-0 and ranked No. 4 around Halloween of last year. The 0-2 finish – home losses to Camden County (24-7) and Marietta (30-27) – called into question what kind of team the Vikings really had after such a promising start.

Was it a state contender that slipped up, or a young team that just wasn’t ready?  Or maybe some of both?

“To make a deep run, a bunch of things have to go your way,’’ said Lowndes’ Randy McPherson, a coach with five state titles. ‘’We had a young team. We’ve got a bunch coming back.’’

What McPherson wouldn’t blame it on was injuries. Limping down the stretch were leading rusher Nick Burgman and all-state defensive back Tijuan Lang, perhaps the team’s best two players.

That’s over now, though, and Lowndes has 13 of 22 starters back, plus some talent uploaded from a JV team that went undefeated. The team is best fortified on defense and the offensive line, which are the main priorities for an old-school coach such as McPherson.

McPherson liked the work of his defense during spring practice, which finished up last week. All four starting linebackers return, including Georgia Tech-committed middle backer Tre Jackson.

‘’Jackson is one of those rare breeds that is just a natural leader,’’ McPherson said. “He goes hard on the field and off. In the classroom, he’s right at a 4.0 GPA. He plays hard, and it bleeds over to the other kids.’’

Lowndes must replace two interior defensive linemen and two in the secondary. Lowndes’ defense won’t be that big physically, but it should be fast.

‘’The defense is way ahead of the offense,’’ McPherson said. ‘’We always put the best players on defense and go from there, and we just had a hard moving the ball against them in the spring. We’ll get better.’’

On offense, McPherson says he will have his most experienced line in a couple of years. Three starters are back, and a fourth lineman played a lot last season. The Vikings picked up a move-in over Christmas when Valdosta’s Dyshon Sims, the only junior who made first- or second-team all-region on the OL last season, moved to the country. Sims has an offer from Georgia.

Ahman Brown (553 yards, 10 TD in 2012 as a sophomore) and Jordan Williams (393 yards, 6 TD) return as running backs.

Lowndes must replace quarterback Alex Stephenson. That position will be decided through the summer, but the new quarterback will be an underclassmen with no varsity snaps. Leadership qualities rank highly since Lowndes passed only about seven times per game last season.

McPherson’s assessment of the 2013 is pretty similar to most that he’s given in his 11 (going on 12) seasons in Valdosta.

‘’The expectations here are always going to be the same – basically to win every game,’’ McPherson said. “We feel like if we can continue to improve, we can compete with anybody on the schedule. Spirits are high around here. The kids are excited.’’

Lowndes Vikings at a glance

2012 record: 9-2, lost to Marietta 30-27 in first round.
Starters returning: 6 offense, 7 defense

Key players lost: RB Nick Burgman (Valdosta State), DB Tijuan Lang (Marshall), QB Alex Stephenson (Valdosta State), DL Chandler Sumlin (Miles), DE Sam Washington (Fort Valley State)

Key players returning: RB Ahman Brown, MLB Tre Jackson, LB Nathan Brantley, DB Eric Hart, LB Brian Bell, DE Ellis Griffin
Spring practice dates: Completed May 23

Outlook: Lowndes should be strong in the places that it matters most for this program – defensive, offensive line, running back. The Vikings return 13 of 22 starters, and several experienced backups return. The JV team went undefeated. Expectations will be what they usually are at Lowndes, which would be an improvement over the first-round exit of 2012. Not much will be known until the Colquitt County game on Sept. 27 as Lowndes doesn’t play a strong non-region schedule.

Schedule:

Aug. 30 – Luella

Sept. 6 – Newton

Sept. 13 – Windsor Forest

Sept. 20 – Hardaway

Sept. 27 – Colquitt County

Oct. 4 – at Brunswick

Oct. 11 – Valdosta

Oct. 18 – at Coffee

Oct. 25 – Tift County

Nov. 1 – at Camden County

45 comments Add your comment

57Cat

May 27th, 2013
9:08 am

Now that we’ve heard from Todd, we will get the real skinny from bksmith14, I hope. Or, is this another wait ’til next year?

yo

May 27th, 2013
10:03 am

My pre-season top 5 contenders. No particular order.

Norcross (obvious favorite with returning talent)
Lovejoy (gotta say they surprised me last year).
Colquit
Lowndes
Camden (question mark with new head coach)

57Cat

May 27th, 2013
10:19 am

I wouldn’t overlook North Cobb.

Golden Isles Fan

May 27th, 2013
11:37 am

Coffee could be the sleeper in region 1 this year ……it will be very interesting this year in this region…very strong region top to bottom….most teams in this region have a lot of experience on both sides of the ball…..

GO CAMDEN COUNTY WILDCATS!!!!

bucfan

May 27th, 2013
3:56 pm

My guess is Lovejoy takes a step back while one of the other Gwinnett Co schools or more look to contend. Maybe Grayson, N Gwinnett, Brookwood, or Parkview?

fred

May 27th, 2013
4:09 pm

watch out for north gwinnett go dawgs

Marietta fan

May 27th, 2013
6:03 pm

I just have to say the Marietta and Lowndes game last year made the 4 hour ride home go a whole lot quicker by us pulling the upset. I was shocked how McPherson was totally out coached by Coach Burton. I hope we meet again at some point, just only at Northcutt this time

yo

May 27th, 2013
10:30 pm

Actually Marietta fan Lowndes was just out played.

Marietta fan

May 27th, 2013
10:51 pm

I guess you could say that too. We jumped on them early and as Coach Burton said “threw the kitchen sink at them defensively”. It also helped that Anthony Jennings played his best game in high school in that game. Look for him to get some playing time this year at LSU

SouthGaDude

May 28th, 2013
7:41 am

Valdosta will be better than last year…..a lot coming back on defense, and a strong running game and some passing, and great kicking game. Key will be development of OL.

Camden74

May 28th, 2013
9:27 am

Anyone serious about beating Camden had better do it this season! Release the CATS! :-D

sportsnut

May 28th, 2013
9:46 am

Good Luck this season, Vikings

sportsnut

May 28th, 2013
10:49 am

Hows it going my people? The first Poll of the year has been out a couple of weeks now and it is time for the conversation to begin. We all know what last season was like and who did what. Time for re-assesment. GPB is calling it, for now, a Gwinnett Cobb party with only a couple invitee’s for show.

This is how they see it = Norcross

Colquit

N. Cobb

N. Gwinnett

McEachern

Lowndes

Peachtree Ridge

Walton

Hillgrove

Wheeler

What do you think ?

Camden74

May 28th, 2013
11:31 am

This must be a basketball ranking………..Release the CATS! :-D

sportsnut

May 28th, 2013
1:46 pm

Negative 74. This is their early Poll. They must know something many of us do not. Or, they know nothing at all. I can understand Lovejoy not being there but your Cats are deserving. It will all change as the season begins and the games are actually played. Good Luck on the season.

Catdoc

May 28th, 2013
3:03 pm

Will camden get the 4th spot when they run N Gwinnett out of the dome?

Camden74

May 28th, 2013
3:11 pm

Sportsnut, it was a tongue n cheek statement…….Norcross deserves to be ranked # 1 until someone beats them. Colquitt will lose 4 games this coming season and the rest, with one or two exceptions, have not proven anything. Camden has to break in a new QB, a few new coaches and cover losses on defense. But, they are going to surprise a lot of people! North Gwinnette had better come ready to rumble! As I previously posted, if anyone is going to beat Camden, they’d better do it this season. Release the CATS! :-D

Colquitt Fan

May 28th, 2013
7:02 pm

Who’s the 4 teams that’s gonna beat Colquitt?

WildHawg2012

May 28th, 2013
7:41 pm

Camden74 I know you are upset about your coach but Colquitt loosing 4 games is a foolish statement and u are way too smart to make such a crazy statement.I do think Camden will loose 4 games starting in the dome cause North Gwinnett is for real.

CoffeeC100

May 28th, 2013
7:57 pm

I don’t see Coffee being included in this 50 in 50 series thingie so I guess this is a good place to get a thought in on Coffee. IMHO Coffee has by far the toughest schedule in 6A this year. If The Trojans make it through their 1st three game with wins they will be a team to seriously contend in 1-6A this year. Game 1- Whitewater 12-2 in 5A through the quarterfinals. Game 2- Ware County 13-2 and state runner-up in 5A. Game 3 Burke County with their Magic Man at Qback again this year. Damn I can’t wait for the season to start.

Colquitt Fan

May 28th, 2013
10:23 pm

Coffee, either you are joking or just haven’t seen Colquitts schedule. Norfross(scrimmage), Grayson, Hoover, Lovejoy, carver, and the region schedule. That could be the toughest in the country

Colquitt Fan

May 28th, 2013
10:24 pm

Camden74

May 28th, 2013
10:44 pm

Colquitt will lose 3 or 4 games to these teams: Grayson, Hoover, Lovejoy, Coffee, Lowndes, Valdosta and Camden.They will also lose in the playoffs. Brunswick and Tift will not be pushovers either. Every team they play will be up for the game. Question is, will they be able to maintain their mental and physical discipline through a tough 10 game schedule, plus the playoffs? I don’t think so! Release the CATS! :-D

topper

May 29th, 2013
1:35 pm

As a Camden fan I like being off the radar this year even though I don’t believe the drop off will be any where near what the rest of the state expects. There is a bunch of talent here and I believe we got the right coach. Man I can’t wait for football season to start.

Bama Boy

May 29th, 2013
1:37 pm

Camden Co. will be there at season’s end.

sportsnut

May 30th, 2013
7:16 am

@ 74 == I fully expect Camden to be there. Too much talent. Norcross does deserve to be #1 but I think they will be the team to take a step back this year. On the subject of Colquit losing 3 or 4, that is very possible. Difficult schedule.Hard to tell right now what will take place. I know Sept. 6th will be a day for Lovejoy to find out what Colquit has. They look good on paper this year but the games have to be played.If they win their non region games, their region opponents have no chance.

Camden74

May 30th, 2013
9:00 am

Sportsnut, part of my prediction is based on Colquitt’s recent history of losing games early in the season and the fact that they probably have one of, if not the toughest HS schedules in the country. It’s very difficult for HS kids to maintain the type of disciplined focus need to have an edge all season long, plus the playoffs. Every team they play this season will be gunning for them. I believe they will be hard pressed to stay healthy for the entire season. Also, the fact that opposing coaches are starting to catch on to Propst’s game plan.

As for Camden, you’re right, they will be fine. They have a lot to replace, but I believe by the time the playoffs start, they’ll be rolling! I also believe that Coach Coffey will, RELEASE THE CATS!!! :-D

sportsnut

May 30th, 2013
12:57 pm

@74 == I agree with you on Colquit’s early season struggles. This cost them in more ways than they know. With the attitude of not being concerned as much as they should in their non-region games, they give away or lack the effort to try and win them all. Bad thinking. Worry about region only and you limit yourself. I am not sure this is the pervassive thought within this program but it is the expression of many fans of theirs. If you win them all, you’re home for the playoffs.

We too have much to replace and it will not look like last season. By no means is the cupboard bare though. The game at Colquit in week 2 will speak volumes.

SouthGaDude

May 30th, 2013
1:42 pm

word on the street around lowndes is that the defensive coord for the vikes has been demoted to running backs coach. rumor is there was a big blow up between a few coaches and the head coach which resulted in the demotion

Colquitt Fan

May 30th, 2013
2:39 pm

I highly doubt we go undefeated this year but this arguably our deepest team we’ve had in a long time. As long as Mobley stays healthy we’ll be fine. Our defense will be lights out this year plus one of coffees better defensive players moved to Moultrie as well as a QB from Warner Robins. One thing about our schedule is that while we play one of the rougher ones in the country, there’s several teams that aren’t as good as they were last year. Grayson, Hoover, Lovejoy, Camden, and lowndes will not as tough as they were last year.

Camden74

May 30th, 2013
2:49 pm

Sportsnut, why is Lovejoy playing at Colquitt again this coming season?

Region 1 6A is not the place to be having dissension among coaches on a team that’s supposed to be pretty good this year! This is going to be an interesting year in GHS Football.

Release the CATS! :-D

Camden74

May 30th, 2013
2:54 pm

Colquitt Fan…….Are you serious, do you really believe that Colquitt got better while all the other teams regressed? :-)

Colquitt Fan

May 30th, 2013
3:03 pm

So you’re saying all those teams will be better this year than last? Colquitt will be as good or better than last year and will have way more depth. And Colquitt bought out Lovejoy for another home game

ValdostaFan

May 30th, 2013
3:07 pm

Valdosta will be better this year than last
Defense is much better/stronger
Strong Running Backs and WR
Great Special teams (kicking/punting)
QB options (Run it, throw it, Hybrid/Read Option)

Key will be development of OL

Camden74

May 30th, 2013
4:38 pm

Colquitt Fan, what I’m saying is that I wouldn’t assume the worst about any team that has a winning tradition. All of the teams you listed have a winning tradition and even in a down year, they will play to win until the final second ticks off the clock! :-)

Colquitt Fan

May 30th, 2013
7:46 pm

I know what you’re saying and normally I don’t say that abou teams. 3 of those teams were in the top 10 nationally and all lost quite a bit. I don’t see where what I said was that far of a stretch

Plowboy-Viking

May 30th, 2013
8:00 pm

SouthGaDude you are wrong….Taz is still th DC

Camden74

May 30th, 2013
9:37 pm

Colquitt Fan, we’ll know for sure in a few months, but I’m sticking with my prediction. :-)

sportsnut

May 31st, 2013
6:05 am

Yes, Colquit did buy that home game. I’m with 74 on this one. Do you think no one else has a program where the next group steps up and contributes ? That question is for Colquit Fan. With Lovejoy winning the way they did, meaning blowouts, they were able to play numerous kids all season long. Those kids know their role and will be ready to fill the gaps. I am not saying Lovejoy will be as strong but they will compete with anyone. Sept. 6th can’t get here soon enough for me.

Plowboy-Viking

May 31st, 2013
9:09 am

Love joy has a “program” they will win a lot of games this year…..and next, and next!!

Colquitt Fan

May 31st, 2013
5:19 pm

No one said you can’t keep reloading, were doing that as well. I’m just saying you don’t run out a top 10 team in the nation every year. 3 of our opponents were last year and and others weren’t far

Camden74

May 31st, 2013
6:43 pm

Ah yeah! The SMACK season has started already! :-)

bksmith14

June 2nd, 2013
6:42 pm

a lot of people dont realize how bad lang and burgman being banged up really hurt the vikings last year. Completely diff ballgame if lowndes has these 2 against camden for region title. Lowndes defense shut camden down all night and just wore down at the end bc we cdnt move the ball after drive 1… you have to have speed at the rb position when you play camden and both nick and lang could run the 40 in under 4.4…for those who dont believe me..i could care less. ive seen it on the stop watch. The marietta game…lang was hobbled abd so was burgman…both players maybe 75%…burgman reinjured the hamstring he hurt before that game was over. I am not saying lowndes wins it all last year but with a healthy lang and burgman we make it past marietta in rd 1 and the camden game would have been a lot closer.

This season , the vikings will have a defense on the filed that will be better than last years …(should be)

The offensive line should be better …the new kid is 6 ft 5 270 lbs and has d-1 offers already. Plus we have 3 others who were on the line last year coming back and a NEW O line coach who coached at buford and peach county

We have plenty of running backs as always and speed

If lowndes can find a solid game manager at the qb position then we will be a force to be reckon with and i can see us going farther this year

Remember these 2 names….tyson harris and tai hatcher, these 2 are going to be 9th graders when the school year starts…both of these kids are already good enough to get some snaps on fri night. lowndes has a bright future

Camden74

June 2nd, 2013
10:56 pm

bk……LOL……..Already? :-)

SouthGaDude

June 3rd, 2013
9:18 am

bk is the viking loud mouth.

im a lowndes fan, grad, played this viking team not that good. dont buy their hype. defense will be pretty good, but thats bout it. also lot of turmoil with coaches.