Head coach Tremaine Jackson knows just how important Homecoming is.
“Homecoming is about the game,” Jackson said. “I don’t care what festivities are going on. If you got a football team, Homecoming is about the football game.”
The Blazers (6-1, 3-1 Gulf South Conference) host the Shorter Hawks (3-4, 1-3 GSC) for Homecoming as they try to reverse their fortunes from a year ago.
Last season, the Blazers suffered their first Homecoming loss since 2017 in a 49-40 decision to the Mississippi College Choctaws.
Jackson noted the challenge of winning on Homecoming in the GSC. Of the eight football playing schools in the conference in 2022, only one won on their respective Homecoming game.
“There are no Homecomings in the Gulf South,” Jackson said.
The Blazers bounced back from their first loss of the season, knocking off the Choctaws on the road, 21-10. VSU rode a big first half to victory as they scored all their points in the first 24 minutes of action.
The game against Mississippi College is part of a stretch of opponents that knocked off VSU last season. The Blazers still have to face three of those teams over the final four weeks of the regular season.
“We’re kind of on this patch of games where we weren’t successful a year ago,” Jackson said. “Now, we’re able to check off that Mississippi College box, and now we move on to Shorter. It’s always good, it’s good for our kids. Just a good vibe for the week, but we got to get right back to work for a big one this week.”
VSU had a big game on the ground in the win, rushing for 198 yards on 30 carries as a team.
Junior running back G’Mone Wilson led the charge. Wilson finished with a season-high 113 yards as well as a rushing touchdown.
Though he is proud of Wilson’s performance, Jackson believes any of the team’s stable of running backs could have their day.
“G’Mone is one of a lot of guys that we feel like could have a good day,” Jackson said. “It just happened to be his day, but you’ve seen that with Isaiah Flowers. You’ve seen that with Eric Watts. There’s more guys — Travis Tisdale is in that room. Whoever’s got the hot hand that day is who we go with, and so he was the one we went with.”
Jackson added: “It was good to see, but we look for that out of any one of our backs. Bud Chaney is coming back. Hopefully, we can continue to get that production from that room regardless of who it comes from.”
The Hawks are coming off a 19-13 overtime comeback win against Clark Atlanta. The win snapped a three-game losing streak.
The Blazers and the Hawks faced off twice last season, with both games being close VSU wins.
“Records go out the window,” Jackson said. “This team has always given Valdosta State trouble, especially in the first half. They are a great first-half team right now still. We got to be ready to play to meet and exceed that energy and hopefully get some early success.”
With many alumni set to return this weekend, Jackson is hoping to deliver in his second Homecoming as head coach of the Blazers.
“We know that there’s a lot of eyes that are going to be on us,” Jackson said. “People [are] coming home to celebrate their experiences and reunite with other people that they went to school with here. We need to put a good product out on the field, give them something to be proud of and do something that we didn’t do a year ago which is win Homecoming.”
Written by Austin Bruce, Co-Editor in Chief. Photo courtesy of Austin Bruce.