WARRENTON - Principal Kaveous Preston said Warren County High School's homecoming festivities became a welcome diversion in the wake of an attack on football coach David Daniel.
Daniel, who stepped into the post on the afternoon of the last preseason game, was injured Friday after the Screaming Devils victory over Hancock County High School in Sparta.
Acting coach Jim Turner kept the media off the field Monday to let the players focus on their Friday night contest with Washington-Wilkes. "I have full confidence they'll get the job done," Preston said. "That should get us into the playoffs," he said.
Preston did not mention the incident on the Monday morning announcements. The reporters who visited the school were asked to stay outside the practice field.
Preston said one teacher expressed surprise that not one student mentioned the incident during the day.
The players need to understand that life will bring trials, Preston said, but they should "grow up men and keep their heads up."
So all day, Preston said, he stressed the positive. Homecoming week also absorbed the focus. On Monday, students and faculty celebrated "tacky day," with a very relaxed dress code. "I've seen a lot of tacky days in my time, but this one takes the cake," he said.
On Tuesday the school celebrated '80s day, followed by celebrity day, class day and spirit day.
The school reached out to the alumni, with a special invitation to enjoy tailgating on the school grounds outside the football field Friday. Foster said about a dozen Winnebagos would unfold to grill food and celebrate homecoming. He said the school wants graduates to stay involved.
"You're not just Warren County for four years, you're Warren County for life," he said.
Daniel was injured when he tried to break up a postgame fight and was struck on the head with a helmet.
Warren County Superintendent Carole Jean Carey said Daniel had surgery after bones above and below the ear and cheek, as well as ear bones, were "crushed" following the Screaming Devils' 21-2 victory.
After the game, according to Carey, a Hancock Central player smashed Daniel in the head with a helmet. Carey said she was walking with Daniel at the time. After the Devils reached their locked locker room, they were "caught off guard," she said.
Daniel saw a Hancock Central player hit a Warren County player from behind with a helmet. According to Carey, Daniel stepped in and said something to the effect of "What are you doing?" The Hancock Central player then struck Daniel with a helmet.
Mike Ayers, of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said the Warren County school district requested the organization's assistance. Ayers added the GBI is not permitted to get involved without first obtaining a request from the Hancock County Sheriff's Department, which denied Carey's request.
Tom Davis, special agent in charge at the GBI's Milledgeville office, said the GBI, by law, can only get involved if a request comes from the district attorney, sheriff of the county, chief of police or superior court judge. Davis said the Hancock County Sheriff's Department has a right to work without requesting GBI involvement.
Daniel's wife, Rochelle, said the injuries are on the right side of Daniel's face, adding she was told there is no brain damage. But she said there are severe fractures around his eye, cheek and nose.
Preston said Daniel watched the game films before being released from the hospital Monday. He said it might be difficult to enforce doctors' orders for Daniel to rest. "He's probably out in those woods watching practice right now," Preston said Monday.
Carey and Preston both said Warren County is working through channels to make sure the incident is investigated. Preston said the Georgia High Schools Association has been asked to investigate.
Warren County lost its football coach almost a month into practice when Marleau Blount resigned, after allowing several players to practice before completing their physical exams. Blount is now the defensive coordinator at Hancock County.
Preston said the remaining staff works well as a unit.
He said the recent addition of assistant coach Dayon Toomer has been a plus to the special needs program where he teaches and to the football team. "He relates well with the kids," he said of Toomer. "They listen. They respect him."
A pep rally and bonfire are planned at 7 tonight. Foster said Friday's game might be a sell-out.
Morris News Service writers Wayne Staats, Chris Gay and Scott Michaux contributed to this article.