Could Oconee County possibly be a better fit?
By Greg Sullivan
Pretty soon it will be time to throw your spears or duck.
We've gone over this a few times now, but for anyone who might not have heard Morgan County High School will be playing different sports teams next year when they make their shift up to Region 8-AAA.
Among those new teams comes a not-so-unfamiliar team from the North.
In walk the Oconee County Warriors. You've seen the North Oconee Titans, but this is the original, Class AAA version of what an Oconee public high school is.
"We look forward to renewing that rivalry with those guys," Morgan County Head Football Coach Bill Malone told me this spring.
The Bulldogs haven't played their neighbors just up the road in Watkinsville since former University of Georgia standout Tyson Browning was the Warriors' sophomore tailback.
And that was as long ago as it sounds.
That era also brings to mind a certain state football championship for the nearby school.
But let us get to the essence of Oconee County sports and delve into exactly how good of a fit they would be for a potential Morgan County rival.
The history's there. The two teams faced each other annually in the past, but we must dig deeper.
So it turns out an intern at our Morgan County Citizen, Jessica Blomquist, was a high school freshman during Oconee's 1999 state football championship year. She knows the culture of the school, and she now has some insight into what makes Morgan County tick.
So Jessica, from your perspective, would Oconee County make a natural rival for Morgan County's sports teams?
"I guess," Blomquist said, a little bit confused by the expert status suddenly bestowed upon her.
So what does she remember from that "magical" state championship year when she was probably about 14 years old?
"I remember that Taylor Williams, number 37, was the cutest boy on the whole football team," Blomquist said. "And one of the numbers in my locker combination was '37.'"
Of course, I've had better and worse interviews. She then consulted her boyfriend over the internet who brought a former player's perspective to the possibility of the rivalry (Editor's note: he didn't start playing high school football until 2000, the year after the championship year.)
"That's dumb," he said of the premise of my interview. "Thanks a lot," I'm thinking to myself.
He then adds, "Morgan County has to be good at football first," he quickly explains that he's just joking.
Then this, "Morgan County has to beat us to become one of our rivals."
Fair enough, I'd say. But now being in the same region, you'd have to think an eventual win from Morgan County would be inevitable, and quite possibly imminent.
This rivalry, of course, extends far beyond football. The teams will be meeting up in every sport.
Oconee stands out in a few sports, but recently their baseball play has captured my attention.
The Warriors recently advanced all the way to the Class AAA state quarterfinals before finally being eliminated by South Effingham in the playoffs.
"Of course, you know they're going to be a pretty stout opponent," Diamond Dogs Head Coach Brandon Patch said of Oconee.
"They're well-disciplined, they've got good fundamentals...They'll definitely be one of the teams to beat in the region."
And if you ask me, they'll also be a very suitable rival.