A true winner hits Winnerville.

Imagine winning 77% of your games and a state title and instead of a raise, you receive a pink slip. Welcome to football in Valdosta.

Winning is an expectation, losing will send you out of town faster than you can ever imagine.

Former Wildcat coach Mike O'Brien won a state title in Winnersville as well as 77% of his games but still he found himself out of a job.

Enter Rick Darlington. The former Apopka Head Coach was the front runner for a job that had applicants from around the country including North Florida Christian Head Coach Tim Cokely.

Cokely won 4 of the last 5 state championships in Florida and still wanted to coach in Valdosta, that should tell you something about this job.

"There's not a lot of places I would have left Apopka for", says Darlington, "you can't say no if you have the chance to coach in Valdosta."

Darlington's resume includes a 6A state championship in 2001. So far, he has won over the fans in Winnersville, but the true test will come if Valdosta beats Lowndes.

This weekend, it's Southwest Macon, just another road block in Darlington's freshman season.

"You try and build a family", says Darlington, "It begins with unity, toughness, and family. Football is the slowest thing. You're just trying to adjust and it takes time."

In the pressure cooker known as Valdosta, Darlington says no one will put more pressure on him than...him.

"No one can pressure us more than we pressure ourselves. The pressure comes from an interest by the community, the school board and the fans...and that's a good thing."


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