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GREAT SEASON WARRIORS




12/22/2019
Watkinsville, Ga.

A southern scene in Watkinsville, Georgia warms my heart.


GREAT SEASON
WARRIORS



Is spelled out in all caps, and no punctuation, on the Golden Pantry gas station letterboard.

The 2019 Oconee County Warriors would be worthy of that precious highway 15 advertising space even if they *hadn’t* gone 9-0 at home, with seven regular season wins over playoff teams, four wins over top-10 teams, placed 21 players on the all-region team, and put a 13-2 record in permanent ink.

They are also just as worthy of the space (that could justifiably be advertising for bait or biscuits instead) as they *would have been*, had they not fallen short of a state title in the championship game against Blessed Trinity last week.

Another Golden Pantry sign up the road politely hollers the exact same message at you.

Maybe it was a Watkinsville edict, and different people duplicated the glad tidings.

Or maybe the same Golden Pantry Michelangelo spent time under each letterboard, with a bucket of plastic alphabet soup and an extendable suction cup, carefully sticking one letter at a time until these roadside Sistine Chapels were complete.

Go tell it on the mountain: the Warriors had a great season.

If those big black letters beneath the yellow-and-green sign don’t alert you, the Oconee County blue-and-white solo cups triumphantly stuck in the chain-link fence at the middle school might tip you off.

The downtown strip doesn’t have any light-up bells, holly, and soldiers on the tip-tops of the telephone poles, but it does have blue-and-white ribbons on a cast-iron fence catty-corner from the Methodist Church.

All this evidence of greatness decorates the town, despite ‘Bee-Tee’ having won its third straight state title* over ‘Oh-Cee.’

(*“Sharing” is not listed anywhere on Blessed Trinity’s roster of players that ride the bus to state.)

Titans vs. Warriors.

A mascot matchup of mythological Greek proportions wasn’t decided until the fourth quarter at Georgia State Stadium*. Blessed Trinity won 17-14 in elements nearly as bitter as the fans of teams across the state who wanted their games played under the roof at Mercedes-Benz Stadium instead.

(*You knew it better as Turner Field. I don’t bemoan the move to SunTrust Park like some have, but I do think eliminating “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” and “Cotton Eye Joe” from the Braves’ seventh-inning-stretch routine may actually be the franchise’s worst decision of the past decade.

At least include them as options when you make us vote for the seventh-inning-stretch music alongside tracks from Zillow, Luke Bryan, and Ariana Starbucks.)



Today is drier than state championship weekend always is. It’s a little warmer, too.

It is Christmas in Dixie, without the snow that Alabama sang about. I’m still keeping my eyes peeled for Thistlehair the Christmas bear, as always.


GREAT SEASON
WARRIORS



Nineteen letters tell the full story of Oconee County’s state-runner-up season.

Cars roll past them. Patrons may happen to look in their direction as they walk out of the Pantry with a face full of biscuit, and/or wait for the tank to fill.

This par*tic*ular southern scene wouldn’t be u*nique*ly southern, if not for the Georgia pine visible across the road and a football field away (a standard unit of measurement here).

Letters like these overlook old highways and fuel pumps all over our country:


GREAT SEASON
WILDCATS



GREAT SEASON
RAIDERS



GREAT SEASON
HURRICANES


GREAT SEASON
COFFEETOWN



You’re liable to see the name of any animal, pillager, or force of nature you can imagine on signs everywhere this time of year.

Just a few letters and a football season.

An old highway, and the story of a team that will never look exactly the same way again.

In not so many letters, they all say the same thing:

“Whatever they won, or however they lost, we’re proud of our boys.”

Think about how long that would take to spell out using an extendable suction cup and a bucket of letters.

So instead, it’s:

Great season, Warriors.

Stop in and getchu a biscuit. Your mama, too. Y’all earned it.