Winnersville Classic sees battle of unbeatens with bragging rights on the line

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By: Ryan Kelly | WCTV Eyewitness Sports
September 26, 2019

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- Friday sees the annual meeting between Lowndes and Valdosta and, for the first time in almost 40 years, both teams enter the matchup undefeated.

Very few towns can say that a football game is what defies them, but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in the Azalea City who would say the Winnersville Classic isn't hard coded into Valdosta's DNA.

It's a game that transcends the typical football Friday night and becomes something else all together.

"When you live in Lowndes County, you're either a Wildcat or a Viking," said Alan Rodemaker, Valdosta's head coach. "You're not both, but you're one of the two."

"I think it's the biggest rivalry in the state," added Randy McPherson, Lowndes' head man. "Our kids, they know us, we know them. We respect them, they respect us."

A series built on respect, a rivalry built on the cornerstones of tradition.

Built on the backs of titans like Buck Belue, Telivn Smith, Malcom Mitchell and Greg Reid.

For every 2007, there's a 1998.

For every legend, another set to take their place.

For every chapter, a spectacle like no other.

"I went to that as a player here at Valdosta State and thought it was unbelievable," said Gary Goff, head coach at Valdosta State. "I sat there in the stands of that game wishing I'd have played at a high school like that."

And a feeling that never gets old.

But while it feels different, the game wont be won any different, something both coaches know all too well.

"it's just another test," McPherson said. "We've got to try to be disciplined and try to improve."

"Who can run the football, who can prevent turnovers, who can win the turnover battle and who can win the kicking game," explained Rodemaker.

Wildcats and Vikings. 48 minutes for 365 days of bragging rights. The first step towards seasons, moments and players remembered forever, above the state line and beyond.

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