Oconee County High School senior lineman Carsen Stocklinski signed to play for the University of Richmond on National Signing Day.

College football’s early signing period opened Dec. 16, which was the day Stocklinski finalized his plans to join the Spiders. The three-year starter has played both offensive and defensive line for the Warriors but was recruited to play on the offensive line for Richmond.

“I chose Richmond because I have the opportunity to play good football and earn a great degree and I'm also really close with the staff,” Stocklinski said after making it official.

Stocklinski missed a few games early in the season but has been a playmaker for the Warriors ever since his return.

He is a force on the defensive line, scoring a fumble-recovery touchdown off an Elijah Hamm strip sack against Monroe Area High School, but his biggest highlights have come in recent rounds of the playoffs.

In the team’s 31-13 win over Peach County High School in the quarterfinal round, Stocklinski kept Alabama signee Terrance Ferguson at bay on the line while the Warriors racked up 202 rush yards. Stocklinski’s player profile on the Spiders’ website says he earned the game ball for his efforts.

Stocklinski also helped keep the Warriors in the game against Greater Atlanta Christian in the semifinals thanks to his disruptiveness on the defensive line. Tied at 7-7 with less than three minutes left in regulation, Stocklinski got a tackle for loss on third-and-1. The Warriors got the ball back, drained a minute and punted it back, but the Spartans couldn’t score. The Warriors went on to win 21-20 in double overtime.

The Spartans averaged 3.1 yards per rush with 118 rush yards and one touchdown on 38 attempts against the Warriors. A week earlier against Appling County High School, the Spartans averaged 4.6 rush yards on 36 carries and scored three rushing touchdowns.

“As long as our team plays together, we’ll be just fine,” Stocklinski said after the game against GAC. “We just don’t like the feeling of losing.”

Stocklinski’s blocking has affected everything from first-year starting quarterback Jacob Wright’s comfort in the pocket to the blossoming of a sophomore running back pairing in C.J. Jones and Whit Weeks.

Against Peach County, Stocklinski, along with junior Jake Johnson, forced two late interceptions thrown under pressure to seal the victory, and against GAC, Stocklinski proved he can stop the run.

Stocklinski hoped to finish his senior year an undefeated state champion and establish a legacy within the history of Oconee County, but he also proved that his dedication goes beyond the football field and into the classroom by earning a full ride scholarship with a 3.6 core GPA.

At Richmond, Stocklinski plans on studying business, but he has not figured out all the details yet.

Stocklinski will be one of three Warriors playing collegiate football in the state of Virginia next year along with West Weeks at the University of Virginia and Da’Shawn Elder at Virginia Tech.

“I love my friends here,” Stocklinski said about leaving Georgia. “But I just want to meet some new people and explore.”

Before and after his signing ceremony, Stocklinski and his teammates were working toward their last big goal: the state championship.

Oconee County played for the Class AAA title this past Wednesday, Dec. 30, after The Oconee Enterprise’s deadline.

The memory of last year’s 17-14 loss to Blessed Trinity in the Class AAAA state championship round has been motivating Stocklinki and his senior class all year.

They all hoped to check that goal off their list before moving on to their next phase of life. For Stocklinski, that means heading to Richmond as possibly a state champion.

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