With State Title Within Reach, Athens Readies For Tough Assignment In Toledo Central Catholic< < Back to
The Athens Bulldogs began the 2014 season with one goal in mind: win the state championship.
As it stands today, the Bulldogs are just four quarters away from realizing that goal, as they will take on the Toledo Central Catholic Irish on Thursday evening for the Division III State Championship at Ohio Stadium in Columbus.
Athens (14-0) advanced to the title game with a 34-31 comeback victory over Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s in the semifinals this past weekend.
The Bulldogs also need just 14 points against Central Catholic to set a new OHSAA record for points scored in a single season.
A Closer Look At The Irish
TCC finished the regular season with an 8-2 overall record, but finished No. 1 in the computer rankings in Division III Region 8. This season marks the 16th playoff appearance for the Irish, who have a 20-13 record in those appearances. The Irish defeated Trotwood-Madison in the semifinal last weekend 17-14 to advance to the finals.
The Irish are coached by Greg Dempsey, who in 16 years at the helm, has compiled a 144-38 record. Dempsey also coached the Irish to Division II state titles in 2005 and 2012.
Much like Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s did, Central Catholic deploys a run-first offense that has averaged 290 rushing yards and 49 points per game this season. The rush offense is led by their big three of sophomore running back Michael Warren (2,055 rushing yards, 26 total TDs), junior running back Tre’von Wade (1,670 rushing yards, 27 total TDs), and senior quarterback Marcus Winters (1,096 rushing yards).
While they are a run-first team, the Irish have had some success in the passing game, as the QB Winters has completed 56 percent of his passes for 810 yards, 12 touchdowns, and only two interceptions.
However, the success of the offense all starts with their big offensive line, which includes the 6-5, 275-pound left tackle Ramone Miles (Toledo committment), and 6-0, 305-pound left guard Christian Ward. Altogether, the five starters average 6-2, 245-pounds and will be a tough assignment for the Bulldogs offensive line.
St. Vincent-St. Mary's compiled over 300 rushing yards against the Bulldogs in the state semifinal, so the Bulldogs defense will need to play its best game of the season to contain the Central Catholic attack.
The Irish run a little bit of a different look than the Bulldogs are used to seeing, as the 3-4 defense has given the Irish success all season long.
Much like the offense, their defensive success starts up front, as DE Ian Meacham (6-0, 255), NT Christian Ward (6-0, 305), and DE James Hudson (6-5, 250) form a formidable first line, making it difficult for teams to sustain success in the run game.
The Irish’s linebackers are another talented group, as OLB Colin Kauscher (120 tackles), OLB Charles Smith (88 tackles), and MLB Zach Sandwisch (77 tackles) are usually found wherever the ball is.
Overall, the unit allowed an average of just 20 points per game, but haven’t faced an offensive attack as potent as the one the Bulldogs have.