News 12 at 11 o'clock / Friday, Sept. 28, 2012
WARRENTON, Ga. -- It was a special handshake, huddle and prayer. Bulldogs and Screaming Devils were side by side and hand in hand.
In the middle was Marleau Blount, an assistant coach with the Hancock Central football. He once worked in Warren County, too.
"It was long overdue. I think we probably could have done it the very next day after the incident happened and both of these communities would have gone about their business -- the business of healing,” he said of the two-team huddle.
Coach Blount says it was the adults who kept the conflict alive.
"And to go as far as that the communities were divided, it was just the furthest thing from the truth,” Blount said.
Marleau says he's learned a lesson, too. He was the Hancock coach who allegedly sent inappropriate threat-like messages to Warren County players after last year’s brawl.
"It's character building for me. It let me know a lot of stuff professionally. It let me know never let your guard down, and, you know, always keep a professional stature about yourself,” he said.
While Blount says all wounds are healed, Warren County Superintendent Carole Jean Carey doesn't share that opinion.
"I would not say it's complete, but I would say it's a step in the right direction,” she said.
The safety precautions were a little different Friday night. Officers lined nearly all sides of the field. Hancock fans sat on one side and Warren County fans on the other. Hancock buses parked right next to their bleachers, too.
"[It] just seems to be a great night for football here in Warren County. Our security force is out in full. They're very visible, and they're active,” Carey said.
Injured Warren County Coach David Daniel was not at the game Friday night. Carey says he’s still at home healing, and his doctor advised against him going to the game. At the start of the season, Daniel retired from his role as head coach to focus on healing physically and mentally.
Carey says next step is basketball season, and she says there'll be similar safety measures then, too.