Game of the Week: Athens, Gallia Academy Clash In Opening Week Special

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It’s that time of the year again—the best time of the year—week one of high school football. And it doesn’t get any better than the Gridiron Glory Game of the Week. Almost tradition, week one features a battle of the titans: TVC-Ohio Champion Athens travels to Memorial Field, home of SEOAL Champion Gallia Academy.

“It’s a big football game with an awful lot riding on it for both teams,” Athens head coach Ryan Adams said. Last year, Gallia Academy had the upper hand as it defeated Athens, 52-34 on the Bulldogs’ home turf.

“We’ve had a great series the past four or five years and I expect this one to be very similar,” Adams said. “It should be a great football game.”

New to the series is Gallia Academy first-year head coach Wade Bartholomew. Although Friday night will be his first matchup against Athens, he knows that his team will have its hands full with the Bulldogs.

“Returning the majority of their skill starters—it’s a frightening game to play game one,” Bartholomew said. “Coach Adams is going to have them ready.”

Athens is indeed a scary week one opponent, but the Blue Devils aren’t afraid of the Bulldogs. Gallia Academy has a high-powered offense that they believe can equal that of Athens.

“Two football teams with offenses that like to go quick,” Adams said.

“It might be who has the ball last,” Bartholomew said. “The over/under on the line might be 120.”

A high-scoring game will be the result of 2012 Gridiron Glory Player of the Year Wade Jarrell and GGPOY candidate Joe Burrow leading their respective teams down the field.

“Everybody knows that Jarrell is a very good quarterback,” Bartholomew said of his signal caller. “We’re going to put the ball in his hands, let him run and throw it, and see if he can put this team on his back and carry us.”

“Certainly a great team pursuit, getting after it on every play, and trying not to have any breakdowns in terms of your responsibilities will play a big role,” Adams answered when asked about how to stop a player like Jarrell.

Dealing with Jarrell will be tough, but the real challenge is playing at Memorial Stadium and it’s fans, known as the G-Force.

“They bring their fans out in groves, but I’m sure that the Athens faithful will be there to represent us as well,” Adams said. “It will definitely have a great big feel to it.”

Bartholomew will experience Memorial Stadium on a Friday night in the fall for his first time.

“When I walk out of those doors I’m going to have a chill run up my back,” Bartholomew said. “This is what it’s all about—it’s the passion for the game—the fans have it, the players have it, and it’s a neat atmosphere to be a part of and I’m looking forward to it.”