VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — The Valdosta High School football team started spring practice last week. They're moving on from what's been a tough couple of months, and if anything, the struggles they've endured have only made them stronger.
"Even though we're going through tough times, we're still going to fight together as one," said quarterback Sam Brown.
There's still a lot of unanswered questions for the Wildcats. Without a permanent head coach, and with appeals still to be made to the Georgia High School Association, Valdosta began spring practice last week, and there's no where else, they'd rather be.
"They're glad to play football and get going to play football and cancel all the noise out," said acting head coach Shelton Felton. "The young men are excited, they've been working hard. They've been doing what they're supposed to do."
"We just came together as a team as a whole and just stayed focused on the main mission and not worry about the outside distractions," said strong safety Isaiah Holland.
Outside distractions that have become motivation for the Wildcats.
"I really think it's better to be tested because you get to prove everybody wrong," added Holland.
"Right when we got out of school everybody was in the locker room dressed and ready to get out there," said Brown. "We've been putting in so much work in this off time we've had."
An investigation by the GHSA found former head coach Rush Propst lured transfers to the program with incentives like money and gifts. Penalties were handed down. Valdosta can't compete in the postseason this year. Four rising seniors are also ineligible. The program was also fined $7,500, but this team is focused on what they can control.
"They hear a lot of rumors," said Felton. "Football is our safe zone. Play football, have a good time, fly around, and do what they're trained to do year round."
"That ain't the main goal to prove everybody wrong, but it's one of the main goals," said Holland. "We're just ready."
Valdosta has an appeal to the GHSA's Board of Trustees on Tuesday May 4th to lift those sanctions against the program. A previous appeal was denied last month.