The Tuskegee Golden Tigers will aim to snap a two-game losing streak against the Fort Valley State Wildcats in the third annual Red Tails Classic.
Since establishing the Red Tails Classic, Fort Valley State has dominated this series, winning each game by a combined score of 51-6.
The Wildcats is one of only two teams in the SIAC that has beaten Tuskegee in consecutive games in the past 10 years.
The 2022 season was a year of improvement for Tuskegee and Fort Valley State, respectively. The Golden Tigers went from 3-8 in 2021 to 8-3 in 2022, winning the SIAC West division title.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats went from 5-5 in 2021 to 8-2 in 2022, falling just short of a Division II playoff appearance.
In what will be the first season in a non-division format in the SIAC, both teams are predicted to finish among the top four teams in the conference.
How Fort Valley State wins
In last season’s matchup, reigning SIAC Offensive Player of the Year Emanuel Wilson was the star of the show for the Wildcats.
He finished the game with 262 rushing yards on 20 attempts and scored two touchdowns. Now that Wilson is gone, SIAC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Kelvin Durham must fill the void.
While Durham had a great season last year, he did not have the best showing in last year’s Red Tail Classic, only completing six of 17 pass attempts for 51 yards (although he did score a rushing touchdown).
He will have help in the form of receiver duo Corintheus Edmonds and Fralon Warren Jr., who combined for just 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
On the other hand, the Wildcats’ defense is stout and filled with young players who could play a significant role in the team’s bid for championship contention.
Defensive lineman Tim Alderman is leading the way, who also had a big game in last year’s Red Tails Classic. He posted five tackles, 2.0 sacks, and 2.0 tackles for loss in the Wildcats’ win.
Meanwhile, sophomore defensive back Lataj Wright and linebacker duo Dialo Mosley and Kentrell Lawson will also be players to watch for Fort Valley State.
How Tuskegee wins
Although Tuskegee quarterback Bryson Williams had a solid season last year, playing a significant role in the team’s SIAC championship appearance, he did not get off to a good start in the Red Tails Classic.
He started the game playing in just two series, going 0-for-4 passing and throwing an interception before being benched in favor of Ryan Nettles.
With each of the Golden Tigers’ two leading rushers (Taurean Taylor and Donte Edwards) now gone from the team, the onus will be on Williams to have a big game this time.
He will have a lot of help from his receiving corp, which is returning most of its members. The player to watch from that group will be Antonio Meeks.
Meeks had a perfect freshman season for Tuskegee, leading the team with 31 receptions for 692 yards and scoring six touchdowns.
The Golden Tigers’ defense is loaded with defensive backs that will need to leave their mark on this game for them to have a chance to win.
SIAC All-Preseason team selections Zelly Aldridge and Antonio Kennon Jr. will give Fort Valley State’s offense problems along with linebacker Vincent Hill.