A week after being eliminated from playoff contention, the Valdosta State Blazers (2-3, 1-2) will look to rebound and even their record at 3-3 when they host the Henderson State Reddies (3-3, 3-1) on Saturday at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium for the 2009 VSU Homecoming football game.
Last Thursday the Blazers were knocked off by Delta State 31-23 in Cleveland, Miss., which gave the Blazers their third loss of the 2009 season and officially ruined all chances of a postseason for the Blazers.
“We just have to keep pushing these kids hard,” said Head Coach David Dean. “We have to stay positive with them and make sure that they still know that we still believe in them.”
Even though the Blazers have been eliminated from the playoff race, they still have a lot to play for. The Blazers are currently on a streak of nine straight winning seasons which is in jeopardy of ending this season if the Blazers cannot win 4 out of their last 5 games of the 2009 season.
Unlike the Blazers, the Reddies of Henderson State are still in the thick if the playoff race because of their 3-1 record in the Gulf South Conference. The Reddies are coming off a commanding 52-0 win over West Georgia last weekend.
The Reddies racked up 504 yards of total offense in the game compared to West Georgia’s 124 yards of total offense. Senior quarterback Nick Hardesty completed 12 of his 25 passing attempts for 234 yards with two touchdowns and he also ran in a touchdown.
Hardesty is not the only weapon for the Reddies. The Reddies also have a consistent running game which features three running backs in Stefon Ceaser, Kenard Springer and Marcus Jamison. Caeser, Springer, and Jamison combined for 203 yards of rushing with three touchdowns last weekend against West Georgia.
“They are a good football team,” said Dean. “They run the football very well. They have been putting up a tremendous amount of points the last few weeks and they have a lot of confidence on that offensive unit.”
The Blazers fell down 21-0 in the first half last Thursday against Delta State, which made it nearly impossible for them to come back. The Reddies of Henderson State are one of the most consistent scoring teams in all of Division II football, which means the Blazers will have to play four consistent quarters in order to have a shot on Saturday night.
When the Blazers step onto the field on Saturday afternoon against the Reddies they will have had 10 days off since they played last Thursday night as part of the GSC game of the week. This is a plus according to VSU Head Coach David Dean.
“This came at a good time for us,” said Dean. “We have lost a lot of guys this season and it has been frustrating. This was a tough loss for us last week and the break really came at a good time for us.”
The game on Saturday starts the Blazers’ second half of the season which is filled with three more home games, highlighted by a visit from North Alabama on Thursday, Oct. 22, and two more road games.
The game on Saturday will also be the first afternoon game of the season for the Blazers. The game is scheduled to kick off at 3:00 p.m. because of to the homecoming festivities on the VSU campus.
The Athletic Department is calling for a blackout of Bazemore-Hyder in honor of homecoming.