ALBANY — The Albany State football team will open the 2014 season on a five-game winning streak after capping a remarkable 2013 season with an SIAC championship.
To get win No. 6 in a row, the Rams will have to knock off one of their biggest rivals.
Albany State and Valdosta State will both open their seasons Sept. 6 at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium in Valdosta, renewing a rivalry game that has been played just once in the past six years.
The only game during that six-year span between the two Southwest Georgia schools was played in 2011 when the visiting Blazers, who were ranked 12th in the nation, used a last-minute field goal to beat No. 6 Albany State, 30-27, in a thriller.
ASU coach Mike White understands why many consider the schools — which are separated by less than 80 miles — rivals, but to him it’s just another season opener.
“I look forward to getting the season started regardless of who it is,” said White, who will enter his 15th season as head coach of the Rams. “If that’s Valdosta, then that’s Valdosta. When the time comes we will be ready to play a good team and a good game.”
The Blazers, winners of the 2007 and 2012 Division II national championships, are coming off a 6-4 season and lost four of their last six games after beginning the 2013 season ranked No. 1 in the nation.
VSU has won four straight against Albany State and owns a 14-1 head-to-head record against the Rams, who got their only victory against the Blazers in 2004. The last time the teams played each other in a season opener was 2003 when Valdosta State won 21-3.
The 2014 season opener is the first part of a two-year, home-and-home contract between the schools.
On Sept. 13, the Rams will travel to Tuskegee, Ala., for a game against the Golden Tigers, who went 8-3 last season and were edged by North Alabama in the opening round of the Division II playoffs.
A full Albany State football schedule has not yet been released by the school.