By Kevin Price
For GCS Athletics
The Glynn Academy football team suffered through a long night last year in its preseason scrimmage against Valdosta as the Red Terrors lost big to the Wildcats on their home field.
The Terrors went on to claim a fourth straight Region 2-AAAAAA championship and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs before losing to Valdosta by a much closer final score at Glynn County Stadium.
Now again this season, Glynn can only hope it can make major strides during the regular-season schedule after a humbling 53-14 loss to the Wildcats Friday night in another preseason scrimmage played in Brunswick.
The final score on the scoreboard read 70-20 after Valdosta’s junior varsity and freshman players outscored Glynn’s sub-varsity players 17-6 over the final 12 minutes of action.
This time a year ago, the Wildcats toppled the Terrors 64-26 on a night when Glynn made miscue after miscue on both sides of the ball.
In the playoff game last November, Glynn was much more competitive as it fell 35-24 to Valdosta.
“Mistakes killed us in that game, and we made a bunch tonight,” said Glynn Academy coach Rocky Hidalgo who is beginning his sixth season with the Terrors.
“It was ugly, but it was a scrimmage. I’m not gonna put a whole lot of stock into it. I kind of like our kids having their noses rubbed in it. We’ll come back Monday, work hard and get after it.”
The Terrors have two weeks to prepare for their season opener at Fort Dorchester (S.C.) on Aug. 23. Glynn’s coaches will scout the Patriots next Friday in a preseason scrimmage.
“I wanted to get this out of the way and have two weeks to prepare for Fort Dorchester,” Hidalgo said of why Glynn and Valdosta played two weeks prior to their opening games instead of a week ahead of the openers like last season.
Clearly, Glynn has a lot to work on over the next 14 days and needs to get some personnel back on the field as soon as possible, too.
The Terrors took on Valdosta without five potential starters on offense including three linemen and had serious trouble blocking the Wildcats’ defensive front. Glynn managed only two first downs over the three quarters of varsity action and scored only one offensive touchdown on a 71-yard run by senior running back Nolan Grant late in the third period.
Glynn finished with 142 total net yards which included 81 rushing and 61 passing. Grant had 64 net yards on eight carries while GA junior quarterback TJ Lewis was 5-for-7 passing for 61 yards with two interceptions. Both interceptions were returned for touchdowns.
“We wanted to work more on our passing, but we didn’t want TJ to get smashed all night. There wasn’t a whole lot of blocking,” Hidalgo said. “We had a lot of execution errors up front. We knew with the three guys out up there it would be a struggle.”
The Terrors committed five turnovers as they also lost three fumbles with one of those coming on a kick return that led to Valdosta’s first touchdown and an 11-0 lead after a successful two-point run.
Meantime, the GA defense was picked apart by Valdosta senior quarterback Tate Rodemaker, the son of head coach Alan Rodemaker who led the team to a state title in 2016.
Rodemaker, who is committed to South Florida, threw for 306 yards and four touchdowns. He was 18-of-27 on the night while often times throwing to receivers who were running free in Glynn’s defensive backfield.
Rodemaker’s last TD pass was a bullet into a small window on third-and-goal from the 8-yard line. His receiver on the play was senior Jaheim Bell who decommitted from Florida during the summer.
Junior wideout Javonte Sherman caught two scoring passes for Valdosta.
Rodemaker, who scrambled away from GA defenders several times, did throw an early interception that GA senior defensive back Byron Bacon returned 50 yards for Glynn’s first score.
“(Rodemaker) is good. We didn’t contain him very well,” Hidalgo said.
Valdosta finished with 412 yards in the varsity action. The Wildcats also had 106 rushing yards.
Senior running back Shavius Wright dashed 63 yards for a Valdosta touchdown that made it 18-7 early in the second quarter.
“I thought our defensive line played well and our linebackers played well,” Hidalgo said. “We made some mistakes in the secondary. We have a new safety, and they threw some things at him. We have to get better back there.”
Glynn also committed 13 penalties for 120 yards with several of those called against the defense giving Valdosta first downs.
On the bright side, though, senior Chase Gabriel had a great game kicking the ball. He booted several punts more than 40 yards including one that took a big bounce and rolled dead 73 yards later.
Another Glynn highlight late in the night was the fourth-quarter bomb for a touchdown from freshman signal-caller Jayden Drayton to sophomore receiver Deshawn Williams.