practice and summer camp and off-season conditioning and extra tutoring for
players and help for them in finding jobs. Hyder's wife runs a program called
Rent-A-Cat, and if you are a businessman and she calls, then you had better
have some work for a 220-pound 17-year-old. And it's all done for one reason—to
help the Wildcats win. Hyder's team won 12 games last year. It had won 27
straight before that baffling loss in the South Georgia playoffs. This year
Valdosta will be aiming, as usual, for the state title and playing with the
additional melancholy burden of the death during practice on Sept. 28 of senior
safety Kenny Rose. He died of an arrhythmia and was merely jogging at the track
when he collapsed. All the Wildcats are wearing Rose's number 39 in his
Does Valdosta have
a chance at another national championship?
don't have as much talent as they'd like," says one expert on Georgia prep
football, "but they'll probably win 10 games and then go to the
And how does he
explain the Valdosta phenomenon?
But one thing is true. You can't buy tradition, and they've got that until it's
just a shame. They've been winning ever since the school opened its doors. And
even if they don't get any talent at all, I could see them going right on
winning eight or nine every year because of that tradition. What's going to
visitor thinks. Unless it is complacency, and they fight that every minute of
every day of every year in Valdosta. Bazemore has said it's tough to win and
even tougher still to keep on winning. But tough as it is, Valdosta is willing
to do whatever it takes. Because the other thing—well, that's unimaginable.