VALDOSTA, Ga. - Valdosta State will open defense of its 2012 Football National Championship when the Blazers travel to Fort Valley State on September 7, according to the schedule announced by Head Coach David Dean Tuesday.
The Blazers will travel to Fort Valley, Ga. to face the Wildcats on the first permissible weekend of play in the 2013 season before taking the following weekend off for the year's only bye week. The opener at Fort Valley State is a key game and important rivalry in Dean's eyes.
"First off, that is a huge in-region game to be played the first week of the year," he said in the announcement. "All region games are important, but especially those played against an in-state opponent. We recruit the same players year-in and year-out. Our fans know their fans. Bragging rights are on the line every time we step on the field so all of that adds up to make for a great atmosphere wherever the game is played. Its a great opportunity for our fans to be able to go on the road and see us play."
After the September 14 bye week, Valdosta State opens a three-game homestand as the Blazers open Gulf South Conference play by welcoming Shorter to Bazemore-Hyder Stadium on September 21. VSU steps out of conference the following week when it hosts Angelo State, before playing the GSC's newest football team, Florida Tech, on October 5, a game in which Valdosta State will also celebrate Homecoming.
"It will be exciting to face Florida Tech for the first time," Dean added. "As the conference's newest team, it will be interesting to see some new faces. We also face UNC-Pembroke for the first time ever later in the season. Any time you face a new team like that, it brings a playoff atmosphere to the stadium as you want to prove yourself against different foes. Its fun for the players and coaches and allows our fans to see different brands of football."
Following the game against FIT, the Blazers hit the road for a pair of games, starting with a October 12 match-up at West Alabama, the defending GSC champion. The next week, VSU makes its second trip in as many years to Carrollton, Ga. to face West Georgia before returning home on October 26 to play North Alabama. The Blazers close out GSC play November 2 when they travel to Delta State.
"We will face two very tough, long road trips in West Alabama and Delta State," Dean continued. "Not to mention our games in Carrollton are always battles. That is a tough four-game stretch against conference opponents."
Following the Delta State game, Valdosta State closes out the year with a pair of non-conference contests. UNC-Pembroke comes to Bazemore-Hyder Stadium on November 9 while VSU closes the year with 1,015 mile trip to Kingsville, Texas, where it will face Texas A&M-Kingsville on November 16.
Game times for the 2013 schedule have not yet been solidified while all dates are still subject to change, based upon the Gulf South Conference Game of the Week schedule, which will be announced later in the Spring.
The 2013 NCAA Division II Playoffs kick-off Saturday, November 23, with the 2013 Championship game slated for the weekend of December 21 in Florence, Ala.
Sep 7 @ Fort Valley State
Sep 21 vs Shorter
Sep 28 vs Angelo State
Oct 5 vs Florida Tech (HC)
Oct 12 @ West Alabama
Oct 19 @ West Georgia
Oct 26 vs North Alabama
Nov 2 @ Delta State
Nov 9 vs UNC-Pembroke
Nov 16 @ Texas A&M-Kingsville