The Ware County Gators begin prepartation today for the biggest game of the season thus far.....a huge Region showdown with a 6-1 Wayne County Yellow Jacket team that is tied with Ware for first place in Region 2AAAAA at 2-0. The Gators control their own fate and the winner of the game Friday will be in a great postion to capture the Region Championship and home field advantage during the playoffs. The Gators defeated South Effingham on Friday 35-3 to move into a tie with Wayne for first.(Full game story below)
TICKETS: Advance tickets will be delivered to the school and available for the public on Tuesday at the high school ticket office. All tickets are $8 and the crowd is expected to be very large. In order to avoid long lines, it would be wise to purchase your tickets in advance.
Logan Braucht chases Mustang quarterback...
Raja Bradley explodes for more than 200 yards rushing for second consecutive game....Bradley also scored 4 touchdowns in victory over Mustangs.
Tyler Taylor had 8 carries for 32 yards...
Gator defense forces 5 turnovers in victory...
Gators welcome Recreation Department teams to the Swamp on Friday...
Gabbie Stevenson Cheering on the Gators!
Ware Cheerleaders embrace the future cheerleaders in the Swamp...
The story below is compliments of John Scott Cooper of the Waycross Journal Herald.....thank you!
The favored Ware County High Gators got a 35- 3 win Friday over South Effingham ... a "W" that they needed to keep pace with league rival Wayne County heading into next week's showdown with the Yellow Jackets in Jesup. The one-sided victory keeps Ware tied for first place in the Region 2-AAAAA standings with Wayne, a comfortable winner Friday over New Hampstead 52-16. Of course, Wayne has an overall record of 6-1, while Ware is 3-4. Gator head coach Franklin Stephens is happy his ballclub is in position to control its own fate with continued success in region play, but he is mostly just savoring the wins the last three weeks. Ware started out 0-4 (though against some of the best teams in Georgia's higher classifications). "I'm extremely happy with the win," said Stephens. "I can appreciate wins more at this point in my life, especially after starting out 0-4. I'm proud that we are slowly, but surely digging out of the hole."
The Gators came out sluggish and sloppy, losing unforced fumbles to end their first two drives. Ware went three-and-out and punted on its other first quarter drive. Fortunately, the Mustang offense found the Ware defenders too tough to push around. After the first turnover, South Effingham had the ball at the Gator 24. Four plays later, South Effingham's senior kicker attempted a 41-yard field goal that the Gators blocked. The Gators forced a three-and-out the next time South Effingham took possession on a Ware fumble. "It was disappointing to go out (in the first half) offensively and have those doggone turnovers, unforced turnovers, we just mishandled the ball," Stephens said. "We just weren't taking care of the ball. We had been taking care of the ball the last couple of weeks." The coaches rallied the players and the home team ship was righted. On the next possession, Ware scored, with senior running back Raja Bradley carrying the ball for 8, 32 and 11 yards and a touchdown. Bradley had another monster game, going over the 200-yard threshold for the second successive weekend. He finished the game with 221 yards on 22 carries and scored four touchdowns.
In last week's win over Statesboro, he galloped for 212. "We got some opportunities to get some big plays," Stephens said, and then commented on the benefit of Bradley running the ball. "That speed thing ... if you're fast enough to outrun everybody ... I wish we had more of that, but we don't." Bradley had a couple of long runs later in the game of 53 and 55 yards, and Stephens said, "It's always good when you don't have to snap the ball again," before getting into the end zone.
In the second quarter, Ware possessed the ball once, gaining 54 yards on seven plays — the big play a 53-yard run through the middle of the Mustangs' defense — before turning the ball over on downs. The Gator "D" forced South Effingham to punt, an 11-yard shank that put Ware on the Mustang 43. Bradley got the Gators closer with two runs, then QB Jeremiah O'Hara scrambled for 30 yards and a touchdown. Victor Steedley hit his second extra-point kick of game (he was a perfect 5-for-5 on the night) to put the Gators ahead 14-0.
The Ware defense then bent for the one and only time, allowing South Effingham to move 53 yards to the Ware 27. The big play was a 33-yard pass completion from sophomore Taylor Jackson to Ross Freeman. On fourth down, Beck scored the only Mustang points, a 44- yard field goal as time in the half expired. The coach was pleased that his Gators got some drives going, finishing them with a couple of scores, but not as happy that the Mustangs scored on the long field goal by Beck, literally as the horn signaling intermission sounded. "I hate giving up points just before the half. I believe that gives the other team hope," said Stephens. "But defensively, we accepted the challenge in the second half and threw a shutout. And it was great to get those (five) turnovers." Some Gator fans, and there was a good crowd in "The Swamp," probably wished their team was already up enough to have a chance at a running clock for the second half. A big third quarter put Ware up 35-3, and the running clock did come into effect for the final 12 minutes. Bradley burst through a hole in the middle of the line early in quarter three and raced 55 yards for his second score. That capped a four play, 65-yard drive. Ware forced a Mustang fumble and recovered at the South Effingham 15. Bradley rambled in on the next play, and the kick by Steedley made the count 28-3.
The Gator defense got their next turnover with senior defensive back Devantae' Linton grabbing an errant Jackson pass and running it back 10 yards to the Mustangs' 26. (Linton had two picks on the night.) The coaches gave Bradley a breather for a few plays, so senior Tyler Taylor got four consecutive carries to move the ball to the South Effingham 4. Bradley came back to run the "Wildcat" and crashed into the end zone two plays later. Stephens said tha t for the final score of the third quarter, his team decided to work on something new, so they went to the "Wildcat" formation with Bradley taking direct snaps. The running back carried the ball two yards and then one yard for the touchdown. The Mustangs lost a fumble early in the running clock fourth quarter, and Ware held onto the ball, playing young backups, until there was just over three minutes left. The ball went over the South Effingham on downs. Five plays later, Kevin Weatherspoon snagged yet another Ware interception on an overthrown pass by Taylor Jackson that ended the game as the clock ran out.
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