Pigskin Preview: Fort Valley State University | Schools
The Fort Valley State Wildcats didn't get the start or finish they were looking for in 2014, opening up with a 36-21 loss to the defending national champions in Valdosta State. The season-ending game also was an upsetting loss to rivals Albany State in the Fountain City Classic, and going 2-4 between that span resulted in a disappointing losing season for the Wildcats, something this year's team doesn't want to repeat.
"This year we're looking to be more physical," says senior linebacker Sam Good. "More mental and just more oriented as a team so we can produced better on the field."
Last year, the Wildcats suffered through the case of the injury bug which limited their ability to produce their best on the field to compete week in and week out in the SIAC, they are hoping for better luck come kickoff time.
Coach Keithen DeGrate explains, "Our injuries really hurt us especially at the running back position. Anytime we have injuries on the offensive line, it's a killer because we don't have the depth just yet, but we are working on it."
One bright spot for the blue and gold is on offense, they return starting quarterback Malcolm Eady of Swainsboro but on the defensive side of the ball, both LeRon and DeRon Furr who dominated the linebacking corps have graduated from the program leaving big shoes to fill.
"We had a lot of athletes last year that left it all on the field," says Good. "So I'm trying to step up and be a leader by being a better example."
Fort Valley is led by 6th year head coach, Don Pittman. He and his staff say they expect more from this year's team and have been busy working on the team's chemistry this past off season.
"You'll see it on our t-shirts every day at practice," says DeGrate. "Are you C-squared? Are you a 'Committed Cat?' That means you gotta be committed going into the classroom, coming to practice and playing hard."
Taylor County graduate Jonquez Sanders who plays running back for FVSU, agrees with the importance of being committed, "This actually has been one of the best off seasons we've had since I've been here. We have about 20-25 here right now not including the guys that are in summer school. So we're starting off strong and hopefully when the team gets here we'll be ready to go."
Fort Valley opens up the season, September 6th at 2pm, hosting Delta State University.