Updated Thu, Nov 15, 2012 4:02 pm
With the first two rounds of the OHSAA Playoffs in the books, the Athens Bulldogs hope to extend their postseason dreams into the State Playoffs with a win in the Division III, Region 12 finals game this Saturday.
After an outstanding victory over the No. 7 seeded Shawnee Braves in the regional semifinals last week, 36-35, the No. 3 seeded Bulldogs head to Reynoldsburg High School to take on the No. 1 seeded Thurgood Marshall Cougars of Dayton, OH. In the semifinal game against Shawnee, sophomore quarterback and Gridiron Glory Player of the Year finalist Joey Burrow completed 23-of-42 passes for 279 yards and three touchdowns, adding an additional 100 yards and a score on the ground.
After a close win last week, Athens may be facing their toughest opponent of the year in a Thurgood Marshall squad that averages more than 56 points per game offensively.
The Cougars have taken care of business thus far, holding an 11-1 record by wearing out defenses with their aggressive ground attack and by frustrating offenses with their stout defensive play. In their regional semifinal game against No. 4 seed Gallia Academy, the Cougars had four players rush for more than 100 yards and accumulated 578 total yards of offense, all coming on the ground.
“There’s a whole lot of people out there that would like to stop that rushing attack,” Athens head coach Ryan Adams said. “And I think that the thing that you can realistically hope for is to slow it down.”
The Bulldogs have been on a hot streak of their own, winning 11 in a row after dropping their season opener to the same Gallia Academy team that was defeated by Thurgood Marshall last week.
This is the first year Athens has won a postseason game as a school and this young team has adapted to the pressure of the playoffs tremendously.
“This group of young players certainly have a lot of poise about them,” head coach Ryan Adams said. “I think a lot of that comes from all of the success they’ve had all the way up through the ranks. They’re used to winning and certainly want to continue to win and the seniors know how to handle it (playoffs) from being a part of them last year.”
Come Saturday night, a crown will be awarded to the best team to represent Division III, Region 12 in the 2012 OHSAA State Playoffs.
“It’s been quite a ride needless to say,” Adams said. “We’re gonna hope like heck we can get the fans their money’s worth again and make a game of it.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at Reynoldsburg High School.
Reynoldsburg High School
6699 East Livingston Ave.
Reynoldsburg, OH 43068