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Photo by Jon Barash
Photo by Jon Barash

Last night on an evening where college players were dominating on the gridiron, several future college players were excelling on the high school field. Three members of the Score 44 were in action at Hallford Stadium Saturday night as Valdosta traveled up to DeKalb County to square off against ML King. Demarco Robinson of ML King returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown to get the action going early. After Valdosta was held to a three-and-out Robinson was at it again, hauling in an 18-yard diving catch in the endzone for a 14-0 Lions lead.
After a punt pinned King on the three-yard line, two tackles for a loss, including one in the endzone gave Valdosta its first points of the game. Following the free kick, the Wildcats drove down the field thanks to a long pass to Wesley Bee to set up a six-yard one-handed touchdown catch by Jay Rome. The tight end is wanted by every school in the country with Alabama and Georgia leading with Clemson hot on his trail.
One interesting note about Rome, unlike many tight end prospects that stand 6’5 with a great build and tremendous speed, Valdosta uses Rome as a true tight end. Rome blocks with regularity and can often be seen dropping back into the backfield to serve as an extra fullback. So many times physical athletes like Rome are used simply as a huge wide receiver target and they must learn the TE position in college.
After Valdosta intercepted a Jonquel Dawson pass around midfield the Wildcats threw a simple screen pass to Malcolm Mitchell that the future college defensive back juked- jived and spun into a 54-yard touchdown. Mitchell played mostly wide receiver in the game and his great hands and size played well on offense. He showed moves that should benefit him as a cornerback at the next level where his 6’1, 190 frame will be the new prototype for cornerback.
The Wildcats took the 15-14 lead but managed to post one more score before halftime on a fourth down, play-action pass to the tailback.
In the second half, Valdosta took the opening kickoff and drove down before Mitchell once again found the endzone, this time on a 28-yard post pattern where Mitchell cut once and simply outran several potential tacklers, displaying the speed that has most college scouts drooling.
With MLK trailing 29-14, the Lions went to the air on a 68-yard pass and run to one of Dawson’s secondary targets. Robinson was bottled up by the Wildcats defense, leaving Blake Tibbs wide open to split two defenders.
With ML King down by just nine, Jay Rome was at it again, this time splitting the defense on third-and-goal from the 15, hauling in a pass and galloping to the endzone. Rome had been bracketed by the defense with one in front and one behind since his first score, but on third-and-goal, the Lions went with the two on either side of Rome, which he simply just outran for the score.
ML King scored quickly again to make it 36-28 as they went to the air again. This time Kevin Byard hauled in a 75-yard scoring toss just beyond two defenders. Valdosta would tack on a four-yard TD run from Dashay March to up the score to 43-28 before the Lions let two opportunities slip through their fingers.
First Robinson seemingly had a 65-yard catch and score but it was ruled that the quarterback crossed the line of scrimmage before releasing the ball. Then the QB fumbled into the endzone, giving Valdosta the ball back at the 20. Valdosta nearly ran the clock out before giving the ball back with under one minute to play.
For the Wildcats, it was an impressive victory as the team traveled four hours to play in a hostile environment. Valdosta now must turn its attention to Troy Braswell and the Lowndes Vikings, ranked No. 5 in the state in the Winnersville Classic. Should Valdosta claim that game, coupled with Norcross set to play Peachtree Ridge and North Gwinnett in the next two weeks and Camden losing over the weekend, Valdosta could be looking at a spot in the top three next Monday.