Oconee County High School won Fox 5 Atlanta’s Game of the Week with a 35-16 victory over Monroe Area High School last Friday night.
Monroe Area had not lost a game since week one and had hoped to put up a better challenge against the No. 2 Warriors, but the Hurricanes stood no chance at home.
“Just happy for our kids, happy for our program,” OCHS head coach Travis Noland said. “You know, we're just trying to take another step and we took another step [Friday]. We've got to go back to work and try to get ready for another one.”
Oconee County has rolled over every would-be challenger to Region 8-AAA so far this season, and Monroe Area was no different. The Warriors are 8-0 and primed for a deep playoff run.
Still, the Warriors don’t get ahead of themselves with thoughts of the postseason and instead focus on their next game.
“Our next game is our next game,” junior tight end Jake Johnson said. “We're not looking forward to playoffs yet, we're just focused on the next game.”
Johnson caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Jacob Wright on fourth and long to go up 7-0 late in the first quarter. His catch ended the Warriors’ first drive, which took 8:59 off the game clock.
“It was a long drive, but it got things going,” Johnson said. “And our team, we took momentum a little bit, and we just rode off with it, so it was awesome.”
Before the Warriors could really get rolling, they had to convert a third and long on their second drive of the game.
Johnson made a fingertip grab for 12 yards right after Wright took a hit that was flagged for roughing the passer, and the Warriors wound up on the Hurricane 27-yard line. Wright scrambled for about 10 yards after a holding call and then he threw a 30-yard touchdown to junior Darius Johnson Jr. to put the Warriors up 14-0 early in the second quarter.
The Warriors had eight total penalties against them. Noland called the penalties “foolish” and said they gave up too many first downs defensively.
“We had a lot of penalties,” Noland said. “I don't know what to tell you about that. We'll look at them on film and try to correct them.”
The Warriors scored three more times in the game. Before halftime, Wright completed a 31-yard touchdown pass on another fourth down to Johnson Jr., and a 1-yard touchdown to West Weeks after an interception from senior linebacker Justin Coleman.
Senior safety Elijah Hamm forced a fumble with a sack on the third play of the second half, and senior lineman Carsen Stocklinski recovered the fumble to put the Warriors up 35-8.
Monroe Area scored its first points of the game on a 100-yard kickoff return seconds before halftime. Senior Mason Bryon ran the return touchdown and was the primary weapon for the Hurricanes in the second half, scoring another touchdown run as a dual-threat quarterback.
“I thought we did a really good job on things we were prepared for,” Noland said. “They got us with our pants down a little bit there with [Byron] going to the wildcat quarterback, and we struggled with it, but we played extremely hard and got out of here with a big region win.”
Oconee has this week off before traveling to Carnesville, to play Franklin County High School for its last game of the regular season. The Lions are 7-1 overall and 2-1 in Region 8-AAA.
“Everyone on the team is really buying in and we're all listening to our coaches,” Johnson said. “We’re not fighting with each other and it’s just a good friendship in a group of hard-working guys.”