This year’s homecoming is expected to be the biggest homecoming of all-time for the University of West Georgia. One of the main reasons for this is because we will be hosting a familiar foe on our home-field. For the first-time ever, rival Valdosta will be coming to town for homecoming.
This year’s homecoming game will mark the thirtieth time West Georgia has faced Valdosta in football. Despite the Wolves winning last year, the overall series record is 22-7 in favor of Valdosta. The Wolves will look to notch another victory as well as end a long home drought against Valdosta. The last time the Wolves defeated Valdosta in Carrollton was the 1999 season. The 1999 season was also the last time the Wolves were Gulf South Conference Champions in football.
Simply put, Valdosta is West Georgia’s oldest rival. They’re the one school that West Georgia has played every year in sports since their inception. The rivalry between West Georgia and Valdosta dates back to 1957; back when Valdosta was known as the Rebels and West Georgia was known as the Braves. Both universities started out in the old Georgia Intercollegiate Athletic conference which was comprised of six Georgia universities. Both universities then landed in the Gulf South Conference in 1982 and 1983 respectively. Competitive play between both universities continued through the years in all sports.
Mitch Gray is the current Sports Information Director for the University of West Georgia and he knows this rivalry well. He experienced it firsthand back in his playing days at the University. “You know when Valdosta comes to town it’s going to be a tough game,” said Gray. Gray’s favorite moment in the rivalry as a player was a close victory which clinched the university a conference championship. Gray still wears his conference championship ring proudly.
Since 2001, West Georgia and Valdosta have played for the Peach Basket which serves as the traditional rivalry trophy. An interesting fact about last year’s game is that Valdosta didn’t even bring the Peach Basket to the game. “They were so sure of their victory that they didn’t even bring the basket to their stadium,” said Gray. Due to the late game heroics of wide receiver V.J. Hunt, the Wolves pulled off an incredible last second win. “They had to go all the way back to their campus and bring us the basket. It was a sweet moment for sure,” said Gray.
This year’s homecoming is not only shaping up to be the biggest ever, but also the most important. At a university where there are “no small games,” this game will be the biggest to date. “We’re talking about Valdosta, on a Saturday afternoon, and homecoming. We’re expecting a huge turnout,” said Gray. The homecoming game will kick off at 2 p.m. at University Stadium.