Friday afternoon a sign stating "Pride, Passion, Patriots," was hung up in the field house of the Heritage football team.
After Friday night's 21-14 win over Clarke Central, coach Chad Frazier said it isn't coming down.
"Just to come out in the second half with pride and passion is something we talked about all week," Frazier said.
The Patriots (2-0) showed their pride by overcoming a sluggish first half on offense, gaining 125 yards, and more than doubled their output in the second half. Heritage ran for 193 yards on 21 carries and threw for 100 more on four passes in the second half to rally from a 14-point deficit at halftime.
"We got the whole team together (at halftime), and our offense just brought it together for us," Heritage senior linebacker Chase Alford said. "We believed in them and told them they could do it and they did it."
Heritage's offense was led by, for the second week in a row, Quami Stanley and Domic Craft. The two struggled some with their blocking in the first half, but made up for it in the second by running for a combined 179 yards in the final two quarters.
Stanley, who also caught a 75-yard pass in the fourth quarter, took a pitch and threw a 24-yard touchdown to Steven Everson to get Heritage on the board with 9:32 left in the third quarter. The Patriots failed on the two-point conversion, but displayed that pride again by continuing to batter the Gladiators' offense.
Clarke Central (1-1), which was ranked No. 10 in AAAA by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, scored 49 points in the first week of the season, but its offense was limited to just seven on 131 yards by the Patriots.
"What an effort defensively," Frazier said. "Our coaching staff had a plan that kept them off balance, and they couldn't do what they wanted to do with their play calling. They were out of their rhythm from what we've seen in past."
The Patriots' defense continued to shut down the Gladiators, and its offense stepped up to the challenge. For Heritage's second score, it marched 92 yards on seven plays, highlighted by a 27-yard run by Craft and a 36-yard run by Stanley, to reach the end zone on an 11-yard run by Stanley with 3:53 left in the third quarter. The Patriots followed with a two-point conversion to tie it.
Stanley's number was called again midway through the fourth quarter, this time on a pass play on first-and-10 from the Patriots' 23. Stanley pulled in the pass and ran for 75 yards, setting up a 2-yard touchdown catch by Alford from Ryan Sutton with 6:06 to play.
Stanley finished with 104 yards on 17 carries, 122 yards on two catches and 13 yards on one pass for a total of 239 yards of offense. Craft ran for 111 yards on nine carries, behind an offensive line that got better throughout the game.
"We were wearing them down," Frazier said. "I felt like we were stronger than them up front."