Gardner

Nathan Gardner and Woodville travel to Valley Head to face fellow Class 1A Region 7 unbeaten Valley Head.

After two tough losses to Class 2A teams to begin the season, the Woodville football team started Class 1A Region 7 play with a 46-38 win over Coosa Christian.

“We needed that win,” said first-year Woodville head coach Tyler Vann. “It was big because it was the start of region play, but the guys needed to see that all that hard work in the weight room and in practice is paying off.”

Now the Panthers have another big region showdown on the schedule this week.

Woodville (1-2, 1-0) travels to Valley Head (2-1, 1-0) Friday at 7 p.m. for a matchup between two of the region’s tri-leaders. 

It’s the 15th meeting between the schools. Valley Head won last year’s matchup 29-7 to snap a four-game losing streak to the Panthers. 

Valley Head holds wins over Ragland 27-14 and Cedar Bluff 20-14 sandwiched around a last-minute 19-14 loss at Class 2A Section.

The Tigers knocked off a Cedar Bluff team last week that many had tabbed the region favorite after it dropped down from Class 2A.

“Valley Head got a big region win over Cedar Bluff last week that kind of put them in the driver’s seat in the region,” Vann said. “It’s a big game for us. We have an opportunity to knock them out of it and put ourselves in the driver’s seat.”

Vann said Woodville must play physical and fundamentally sound against the Tigers in order to stay undefeated in region play.

“They line up and come at you,” Vann said of the Tigers. “They’re really physical. We’ve got to match that physicality to have an opportunity to win the football game.”

Valley Head is led by quarterback Jordan Burt, who leads the Tigers in rushing (353 yards and three touchdowns on 70 carries) on offense and in tackles (29) from his safety spot on defense.

“No. 7 (Burt), he’s probably the best player we’ll see. He’s got speed, he’s athletic,” Vann said. “He’s their best defensive player, too.”

Some family bragging rights are also at stake. Woodville co-defensive coordinator Ben Kirby’s father, John, is Valley Head’s offensive coordinator.

“Father and son going head-to-head,” Vann said. “One of them will be talking smack after the game. I hope it’s Ben.”

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