More than just record is on the line in the Winnersville Classic

By: Kristi Kopanis | WCTV Eyewitness Sports
August 18, 2017

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- Valdosta, Georgia is home to 56,000 people and the biggest high school football rivalry in the country.

One Friday a year, everyone of those 56,000 residents pick a side in the Winnersville Classic.

"The Winnersville Classic, as I understand it, was started by Jonny Lastinger when he was at the chamber," said Valdosta Mayor John Gayle. "He was the dad of John Lastinger, who was the quarterback of Valdosta and UGA.

"It was in the mid-70's when they named it."

You're either a Viking or you're a Wildcat.

"It's a special time in Valdosta," Gayle continued. "It pits the Lowndes County residents, (the county where Valdosta resides), against those in the city. There are families pitted against each other."

A year's worth of bragging rights and one giant trophy on the line.

Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress said "it's a regional event. That's a big deal. Go back to 2007, when ESPN listed us as 'Titletown'. It's a big deal."

The atmosphere, especially for a high school game, is indescribable. 15,000 screaming fans pack inside Martin Stadium.

For the last four years, it's been all Valdosta. But, Lowndes eyes returning the trophy to their side. And, for the players, it's more than just a game.

"It's always crazy," said Lowndes quarterback Michael Barrett. "it's always packed and it's always loud. It always gives you energy. It's always big."