OCHS senior Darius Norman carries the ball during the first half of Friday’s loss to CCHS.

ATHENS—Friday night acted as a microcosm of the first two weeks of the high school football season for Oconee County High School’s football Warriors.

The Warriors started Friday night’s game against Clarke Central High School on a high. Junior West Weeks returned the opening kickoff back for an 80 plus yard touchdown. The Warriors did not hold onto the momentum. The Warriors didn’t expect things to go perfectly all night. The Gladiators were going to make their share of big plays.

“We knew they were going to make some big plays, they’re some pretty good athletes,” Weeks said. “We knew were going to have to respond and fight through it.”

Though they came out ready to play and full of passion to compete against the 5A Gladiators the Warriors suffered their first defeat of 2019 in the 28-21 contest.

The Warriors’ defense surrendered 398 yards to the Gladiators’ offense.

112 yards of the Gladiators’ output came from the legs of former Warrior Jalen Gary who caught six passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns against his former team.

“It was pretty fun because I was lined up on him a lot of the game, he played a really good game and it’s fun to go against somebody as good as he is,” Weeks said.

The Warriors added another 40 yards to the good of the Gladiators with their seven penalties.

The Warriors’ offense was held to 242 yards of total offense. OCHS senior quarterback Max Johnson finished 10-for-21 99 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

His younger brother Jake Johnson was the Warriors’ leading receiver with 5 catches and 66 yards.

In their season opener, the Warriors showed their character and ability to overcome adversity.

They followed that performance with a similar showing in the mental toughness category on Friday.

The Warriors found themselves trailing by 15 points at the start of the fourth quarter on Friday night. After a methodical march down the field on their first drive of the fourth quarter that was capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by Darius Johnson, the Warriors appeared to be in prime position to make another stand and have a shot at tying the game on their next possession.

That opportunity was temporarily robbed when the Warriors missed the extra point following Johnson’s score.

The Warriors forced a punt by the Gladiators and were given a safety after the snap sailed over the Gladiators’ punter Walker Bradberry’s head before he was able to chase the ball down and fall on it in the end zone before OCHS senior Da’Shawn Elder was able to scoop the ball up for six points.

For more on this story, see the Sept. 5 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, go to oconeeenterprise.com or call (706) 769-5175.

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