Playoff Preview: 1 Athens vs 8 Logan Elm

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After Athens finished the 2012 season with an 11-2 record, falling just one win shy of the state tournament final four, expectations were high in The Plains this fall.

And 10-0 was just the beginning.

The Bulldogs (10-0, 6-0 TVC-Ohio) will begin their pursuit of Athens’ first ever football state championship when they square off against the Logan Elm Braves (7-3, 5-2 Mid-State League-Buckeye Division) in the first round of the OHSAA Football Playoffs Friday night at Basil Rutter Field in Athens.

The matchup will feature two teams that finished the regular season on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Athens defeated rival Nelsonville-York 56-20 in Week 10 to finish the regular season unbeaten, with an average game score of 57-14.

Logan Elm, meanwhile, dropped a heartbreaking league-title game in their final regular season matchup against Hamilton Township, losing 24-21.

But despite the fact that Logan Elm finished the season on a sour note, losing two of their last three, the Braves have several threats that the top-seeded Bulldogs will have to keep track of in order to move on.

Logan Elm’s top playmaker is multipurpose back Cory Heeter. The senior is explosive out of the backfield and as a wide out.

Heeter’s classmate Casey Tyler is the signal caller for the Braves. The southpaw has proven himself as a consistent passer this season, and he is a threat to run when he is flushed outside the pocket.

With fellow senior Austin Wood at linebacker and tight end, the Bulldogs should have their first legitimate challenge since playing Fairland in Week 5.

But Athens is playing in the friendly confines of Basil Rutter Field, which will host a playoff game for the third straight year since it was remodeled in 2011.

Since then, the Bulldogs are 15-2 at home. And since the Joe Burrow-Trae Williams era began in 2012, Athens is 10-1 in The Plains.

The Bulldogs’ home dominance was even more profound this season. Athens’ average margin of victory in home games was an astonishing 50 points.

But when the playoffs start, all of the regular season statistics go out the window, because anyone can win on any given Friday. And losing now means the season is over.

And for a team with such high expectations for itself, losing now is not an option.

Kickoff for Friday’s opening round playoff game is at 7:30 p.m.