VIDALIA, Ga. (WSAV) – High school football fans in Savannah can’t be blamed for a lack of familiarity with Vidalia; it’s a bit of a hike from Chatham to Toombs County on I-16.
However, folks around the Coastal Empire are acquainted with second-year head coach Jason Cameron, mostly on account of a highly successful three-year stint at the helm of Jenkins High School in Savannah.
Now fully settled into the Vidalia community, Cameron says the atmosphere is exactly what he had imagined when he took the job.
“The pride in this community is something I’ve never experienced before,” Cameron said. “The people here bleed the maroon and gold, but it’s more than Friday nights. When you’re at the grocery store, you’re getting the ‘good luck’ and ‘coach, great job.’ They care about football but most importantly, they care about the kids.”
Cameron has Vidalia moving on an upward trajectory; Georgia Public Broadcasting ranks Vidalia in the top 10 of its Class 2A preseason poll. That’s not necessarily surprising in of itself, but it is when taken along with the fact that Vidalia lost the majority of its starters on both sides of the football. That includes reigning Region Player of the Year Jaylin Burns and four of five starting offensive linemen.
Vidalia is leaning on an especially large class of sophomores to plug the gaps and Cameron is optimistic about their play in camp.
“It’s great because these guys have put relentless effort in since the time we started back up again last year in January,” Cameron said. “It’s exciting, it’s kind of the unknown because we don’t know how it’s going to pan out but it’s something that we’re really excited about and the results will show.”
On offense, Vidalia plains to run most of its plays out of a spread formation with quarterback Bryce Davis in the shotgun. It’s a formation that usually lends itself to passing, but Vidalia plans to focus more on its running game, thanks to several talented halfbacks that will likely split carries.
“Sometimes we split carries and sometimes we go with multiple back formations called Max formations, but most likely we’re going to split it because all of our running backs are the same speed and same strength,” said sophomore halfback Ah’Melion Jones. “If we switch a running back in, you won’t be able to notice it because we are all like that.”
That speed also applies to the defensive side of the ball.
“We really spread on defense,” said sophomore Antonio Barron. “We cover field and ground a lot and we can get downhill fast. With that being said, our safeties and all, we come downhill and we fight strong. We might be a small team, but we’re strong and we’re efficient when we work.”
Vidalia’s players all singled out the Oct. 22 matchup against Toombs County as the biggest regular season game on the calendar. The yearly cross-county rivalry has gone to Vidalia for three straight seasons.
That’s not the only streak Vidalia is looking to protect; the team also did not lose any region games last season and have a six-game region win streak dating back to 2019.
Senior quarterback Bryce Davis will be called upon once again to lead the offense. He racked up 21 total touchdowns and 1,277 rushing yards last year. The U.S. Military Academy recently offered Davis a scholarship.