Preview: Meigs hopes to stall Athens offense

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Two teams with two very different week six results are set to clash this Friday when Athens (6-0, 2-0) travels to Meigs (3-3, 2-1) for a TVC-Ohio bout.

The undefeated Bulldogs are coming off a major win over another powerhouse school in Steubenville, while the Marauders suffered a 32-14 loss to conference rival Nelsonville-York. While Athens essentially has a playoff berth secured, Meigs faces an up-hill battle to finish with a winning record.

Though Meigs is considered to be a major underdog, Marauders head coach Mike Bartrum is eager to take on the best of the best.

“You only get a few opportunities in your lifetime to play against a team like Athens,” Bartrum said.  “They’re a unique team. They’re just a good team. They’ve worked for everything they have and that’s where we want to go one day.”

For Athens head coach Ryan Adams, every game is highly valued for his senior-heavy squad.

“We’ve got a lot of veterans, a lot of seniors,” Adams said.  “They look forward to all of these games because they know their opportunities to play together on Fridays are dwindling.”

Bartrum specifically mentioned the speed as Athens’s best asset. He cited quarterback Joe Burrow and running back Trae Williams as two key players for which it is impossible to prepare.

“You’ll never be able to simulate their top end speed and (Burrow’s) recognition of coverages, throwing the ball at spots with his speed. He does a great job,” Bartrum said.  “We did our best though. We were out there for a few hours just getting after it and we’ll just give it our best shot.”

Although Burrow and Williams are deservedly so getting the majority of the attention, Adams acknowledged Meigs’s potential to wreak havoc on offense.

“Stop 21, Michael Davis,” he said.  “Michael Davis is a big part of their team and we’ll have to have all eyes trying to find 21.”

While Davis is lesser known than his offensive counterparts in the game, there is no downplaying his impact on offense, as well as special teams.  Last week against Nelsonville-York, Davis racked up 287 total yards, including an 84-yard kickoff return touchdown.

“They pose a lot of problems for us, certainly offensively,” Adams said.  “They have a lot of different looks and coach Bartrum does a good job of getting the ball into guys’ hands that can make plays.”

However, one factor that could put a damper on these high-powered offenses isn’t necessarily the opposing defenses, it’s the weather.  The forecast is calling for rain again this Friday, possibly even more than last week.

“Last week against Steubenville there was a torrential downpour in the second half so that prepared us a little,” Adams said.  “But, that game was on turf and there’s certainly a difference between playing on grass or turf.  It was raining at practice for a few hours today so we can’t wait to mix it up in the mud and wet.”

“You’ve got to be able to play through adversity,” Bartrum added.  “I know they won’t make excuses and we won’t either. We both have to play on the same field.”

And while Athens certainly is the gold standard in the conference right now, having won 26 straight regular season games, Meigs has no plans to back down.

“Our kids understand that there’s a possibility,” Bartrum said.  “Somebody’s going to win, somebody’s going to lose. We go into the game with the frame of mind that we’re not scared of anybody, we play our best and see what happens.”