The Warriors (8-2) host Valdosta (7-3), the third seed out of Region 1AAAAAA, in the opening round of the playoffs tonight.
Grouped in a region with No. 1 Camden County, Lowndes and Colquitt County, the Wildcats face some of the state’s best teams on a weekly basis.
But then again, so have the Warriors.
The second seed from Region 4AAAAAA, North Cobb plays alongside McEachern, Marietta, South Cobb and Hillgrove — all of which finished the season with winning records.
One of North Cobb’s losses came against South Cobb, which was ranked as high as No. 9 in the state earlier in the season, and the other from current No. 9 McEachern.
North Cobb coach Shane Queen feels that his team has experienced enough football this season to be prepared to play. After all, the coach said, it did qualify for the playoffs, just like every other team suiting up this weekend.
“(The players) know what they have to do,” said Queen. “They know the situation and the opponent.”
Queen hopes his players can draw from some of their game experience when they host the Wildcats.
Quarterback Tyler Queen is had a breakout regular season. One of those games he can draw on came in Week 2 when North Cobb routed 2011 state runner-up Walton 49-17.
For the year, Queen, a sophomore, has thrown for 1,802 yards with 17 touchdowns against only seven interceptions. Adding to his effectiveness is his ability to run the football, as he has added 671 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground.
The Warriors are experiencing one of their best season under Shane Queen, who has led the team since 2006. It is the fourth time North Cobb has made the playoffs under Queen, who coached the team to a 10-1 record in 2007 for the team’s best finish. The Warriors have never won a state playoff game, but this may be the their best chance in recent years to break what is now a 12-game postseason losing streak, which includes region playoff games.
Valdosta has plenty of experience and tradition behind it. The Wildcats have recorded more victories than another other team in the state. Their recent history isn’t much different. A perennial playoff team, Valdosta is 87-24-2 in the state playoffs since World War II and it is looking to add to its record 23 state championships.
Valdosta coach Rance Gillespie said his team seems to be coming together at the right time to hunt down another title.
“Each year, you see your team, as a whole, peak and come together,” he said. “(They) start playing to their full potential. It seems like we’re starting to do that.”
The Wildcats have scored more than 34 points in each of their past three games.
The offense is led by quarterback Shelby Wilkes. Running backs Nelson Herring and Malcolm Joseph tote most of the rushing load, which wouldn’t be possible without the strength of the Wildcat offensive line. The talent doesn’t end there tight end Taijuan Smith has become a favorite target of Wilkes’ as have Alex Cason and Sherrod Inman.
One thing the Wildcats certainly are not is one-dimensional.
“They do a lot of different things really well,” said Queen. “And they are successful with what they do.”