By Alvin Richardson
Morgan County will hit the road this week to take on the Class AAAA Oconee County Warriors. It will be the third time in four games that the Bulldogs have played upper classification teams this season in a tough pre-region schedule.
Morgan lost to Loganville (Class AAAAA) 32-19 in the first game of the season and to Walnut Grove (Class AAAAA) 34-31 in overtime this past week. Sandwiched in between those games Morgan bested rival Greene County 14-9.
Now it is on to Oconee County and it is a daunting task for the young Bulldogs. Oconee is 2-1 on the season with a 20-16 win over Jefferson (ranked 6th at that time) and a 24-10 win over Spalding. Their only loss on the young season was to Clarke Central (17-10).
The Warriors are led by pre-season All-State quarterback Max Johnson who is the son of former NFL and Florida State quarterback Brad Johnson. He is also the nephew of former UGA Coach Mark Richt and Johnson is considering Richt’s Miami Hurricanes as one of his college choices. Johnson threw for nearly 2000 yards in 2017.
The Warriors are coached by Travis Noland, a veteran with 21 years of head coaching experience. Noland has a career mark of 150-80 (.652) with stops at Stephens County (73-30) and two schools in North Carolina (46-32).
This is Noland’s fifth season at Oconee where he has posted a record of 31-18 with playoff appearances each season. Noland’s Oconee 2015 squad went 9-3, losing in the second round 28-14 to semifinalist Cedar Grove.
Morgan and Oconee have faced off against each other 26 times since 1968 with the Warriors holding a slim 13-12-1 advantage in the all-time series.
Oconee has had the Bulldogs’ number lately winning the last four games in a row dating back to 2014. Morgan County last defeated the Warriors in 2013 by a score of 41-29 in a game played at Warrior Field.
Since then Oconee has won by scores of 33-31 (2014), 26-13 (2015), 21-0 (2016) and last year the Warriors stopped the Bulldogs 30-22.
Oconee posted a record of 5-6 in 2017 and wound up third in Region 8AAAA. They lost their opening round playoff game 35-0 to eventual state champion Blessed Trinity.
Game time is 7:30 p.m. at Warrior Field in Watkinsville.