Athens Bulldogs Honored By Red Cross For Record Breaking Season

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State runner-up, Ohio’s Mr. Football and Coach of the Year are all titles that can be associated with the 2014 Athens Bulldogs football team.

Now, there can be another added to the list — American Red Cross Hometown Hero Special Recognition Award recipient. The Athens Bulldogs were nominated for the award by Stephanie Woodell. The award is sponsored by Reed and Baur Insurance.

The Athens Bulldogs will be presented a Special Recognition Award during the annual Hometown Hero breakfast on March 10 for their record setting season.

“Athens Bulldogs, to whom much is given, much is expected, and you never let us down. You represented your school, your town, and your county with dignity,” read a portion of the narrative recognizing the team.

“It is certainly an honor to get recognized here locally,” said Athens head football coach Ryan Adams. “We have had lots of state and regional recognition … to get recognized locally we take a lot of pride in it.”

The Special Recognition Award was added last year as part of the American Red Cross of Southeast Ohio Hometown Heroes awards when the organization was looking for a way to honor the Trimble Tomcats and the community following the 2013 football season.

”We felt by making it a special recognition award it was something that we could do other years if indicated. Each year we would decide if we felt a nomination fit this particular award criteria. This year the story of the success of the Athens Bulldogs fit perfectly with our decision,” stated American Red Cross of Southeast Ohio Executive Director Jane Patton via email.

The Athens High School football team finished with many accolades and records for the season including the most points scored in a single season (861), a league championship, regional championship and a 14-1 overall record. Four team members — Trae Williams, Ryan and Adam Luehrman and Joe Burrow — signed national letters of intent earlier this month to continue their respective football careers at the Division I level.

”The fact that the Bulldogs had an outstanding season is only part of the story, we are just as interested in how the players handled themselves throughout the season,” wrote Patton.

”I had many high school teachers comment to me what a polite and humble group (they were),” said Adams of the young men who were part of the team. He also spoke of the dedication and hard work demonstrated throughout the season. “The level of commitment is unlike any I have ever seen.”

The humbleness of the team was also noted in the nominating process.

”Despite all these accolades Joe (Burrow) would be the first to tell you that it wasn’t about him, it was about the team, those who played every game, and those who didn’t, and that is where the real story begins,” read the narrative nominating the team.

”It takes a great coaching staff, a staff who can teach and motivate. It takes players who are willing to walk the walk, put in the hours, spend time in the weight room, understand the importance of discipline and focus. It takes a group of athletes who are willing to play as a team, to appreciate and understand the role of each player,” continued the narrative.

“This is also a story of how one team can bring an entire county together to support one another. We loved the aspect of how teams who were rivals throughout the year become supporters during the state playoffs. This award represents a very positive aspect of our county,” stated Patton.

Adams echoed that sentiment saying the greatest takeaway from the season was bringing so many in the community together, not only those in Athens, but in Southeast Ohio and beyond. Adams noted that the state title game was attended by Bulldog alumni from as many as 13 states.