Granville Presents First Challenge For Athens In The Playoffs

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It’s a brand-new season for many teams in the state of Ohio. The regular season is over, many goals have been met, but there’s still a lot of football to be played. Two teams who will be starting this new season are the Athens Bulldogs (10-0) and the Granville Blue Aces (8-2).

Who are the Blue Aces, exactly? And what kind of team are they? Those are many questions being asked this week about the Green and Gold’s opponent.

The Blue Aces are coached by JR Wait and compete in the Licking Valley – Big Conference. They are led by a core group of seniors that are the first class in school history to win four consecutive league titles.

Senior running backs Jett Nye and Patrick Oehlman, freshman Michael Reed, and junior quarterback Kyle Zies are just some of they key players and all were named First Team All-League.

This is Granville’s sixth trip to the OHSAA State Playoffs and the first since 2012.

Although the Blue Aces have a very successful senior class, they’ve been battling injuries throughout the entire season. They’ll be starting 11 freshmen and sophomores Friday night. But, Wait has complete faith in his underclassmen.

“With 11 sophomores and freshmen starting, our seniors will have to lead us through the ups and downs of the game,” says Wait. “They have done very well with this throughout the season thus far. We are excited about the challenge and high level of play that Athens will force us to climb.”

Coach Wait understands the tough task at hand. He expects his team to come out ready to play with passion, and start hot.

“All three levels of our defense must be ready to play, right out of the gate,” Wait says. “We don’t have delusions of shutting anyone down, necessarily. We have to be opportunistic and take advantage of opportunities when we get them.”

Don’t expect the Bulldogs to be looking past Granville, however. Much like they have all season, they are focused on one game at a time. Wait knows that the Bulldogs have one of the most powerful offenses in the state.

“[Joe Burrow] is a great player, but their running back is one of the fastest in Ohio as well,” he said. “It will need to be a team effort defensively.”

Athens have stuck by their team motto “bleed green in 2014” all season long. The Bulldogs are chomping at the bit to get out and protect their home turf Friday night.

Before his Blue Ace squad takes the field Friday night, Wait wants to leave his team with a special message.

“We are breathing rare air tonight; only 32 teams in our division prepared for a game this week. Tonight is a reward and an awesome challenge. Enjoy it and play the way we have all season.”

It all goes down Friday night, at 7:30 p.m. at Athens High School.

'Gridiron Glory' airs every Friday night at 11:30 p.m. on WOUB. You can follow the show on Twitter @gridironglory, like the Gridiron Glory page on Facebook, and follow along on Instagram @woubsports. You can also join the conversation throughout the season by using the hashtag #GridGlory!