The Oak Grove Warriors still have the taste of a missed state championship season left over from last year. Even though a lot of key players have moved on to college, the Warriors still have a good nucleus of game-time experience to lead this team back to playoff contention.
The Warriors will host the War Eagles of Wayne County Friday evening in a non-conference matchup.
Head Coach Drew Causey understands the importance to starting the year off right.
“We’ve got to play well and use what works for us,” Causey said. “Wayne County has a really good football team. We’ve got to worry about conditioning, heat and just working out those game-time jitters.”
Wayne County is known for its championship program, as well. Looking to avenge last year’s 41-19 contest, Causey knows his Warriors are going to show up to play.
The matchup against Wayne County will be the season opener for the Warriors, giving the Oak Grove squad an extra week to work out the kinks on the practice field.
“Last week we just worked on some things trying to clear those mistakes up from the Jamboree,” Causey said. “We were working in a lot of conditioning because we weren’t playing, while at the same time getting our bodies ready to go for this week’s matchup.”
Wayne County is coming off a key win against Quitman Friday night. Playing from behind most of the game, the War Eagles took the lead midway through the fourth quarter of play and eventually pulled through for a 28-14 win.
The role of Warrior quarterback will be a tough task to replace. John Rhys Plumlee contributed more than 4,200 all-purpose yards and 52 touchdowns during his final year at the helm. That key role will be filled by transfer Damon Stewert and sophmore Kabe Barnett.
“We will probably play a couple of guys,” Causey said. “Right now Damon will get the start. We will go with him and see how it goes. Damon showed us a lot in the Jamboree. We just felt like this was the route we needed to take.”
The wide receiver position will make a huge contribution if the Warriors are to get back to last year’s success. With Travion Smith and his 6’4” frame and more than 700 yards receiving, he looks to continue the success from the 2018 season.
Senior Nick Milsap and junior E.J. Newell will lead the ground attack for the Warriors. Both contributed for 970 yards and 8 total touchdowns during last year’s play. Their experience will be key to opening up the passing attack.
Game planning for the War Eagles is key for the offense. Wanye County has always been known for their big defensive line.
“We are going to take what the defense gives us,” Causey said. “If they give us the run we are going to take it.
Seniors Joey Griffith and Javarion Jenkins led the team in tackles last season and both are back to lead the Warriors on the defensive side.
Causey feels opening up the season with a touch opponent is key to his team’s success.
”Our region is already so tough that you’ve got to play really tough opponents to get yourself ready for district play,” he said. Causey said. “In our region you don’t have an off week. You’re not going to play teams that are bad, so for us to get a chance to line up against and play four really tough non-division games will get us prepared to do what we have to do in our region.”
Game time is 7 p.m. Friday night at Warrior Field in Oak Grove.