Updated Thu, Oct 31, 2013 6:44 pm
August 24, 2012.
That marks the last time that the Athens Bulldogs have lost a regular season game. And that marks the only time the Bulldogs have lost a regular season game in the past three seasons.
The Bulldogs (9-0, 4-0 TVC-Ohio) locked in as TVC-Ohio Champions in their win against the Meigs Marauders last week. Now they look to finish the 2013 season perfect when they host the Nelsonville-York Buckeyes (4-5, 2-2 TVC-Ohio) this Friday.
The past two seasons the Bulldogs had to shake past the Buckeyes for the league title, but with that already in their grasps for the third straight year, perfection is all that is as stake.
“To win three consecutive league titles is something I don’t think an Athens team has been able to accomplish in our history,” Athens head coach Ryan Adams said. “That is certainly something we’re going to talk about later on.”
But, the Bulldogs are not letting that title get in the way of this week.
“We take it day by day and week by week,” Adams said. “We’re really focusing on Nelsonville-York this week; it’s always important to have a good showing before you step into those playoffs.”
The Bulldogs will need just that, at least for a half.
Athens has been blowing teams out this season, often times benching their starters in the second half, and the Buckeyes are not having the season that they are used to seeing in Nelsonville, Ohio.
The past two seasons, Nelsonville-York has finished second in the conference with a combined 16-4 record in those seasons. This year, they will not finish above .500 after being on the wrong side of several lopsided scores, including a 40-0 loss to Trimble and a 47-6 loss to the same Meigs team that Athens defeated 61-13. However, they have won two consecutive games.
Simply put, Athens must be Athens to win Friday’s game.
“We’ve got to continue to do the things that we’ve done well offensively and be able to execute and get the blocks up front,” Adams said. “Defensively, we’re going to have to stop their off-tackle power running game, which has kind of been their bread and butter this year… and try to get enough stops in there to get the ball back into our offenses hands.”
The Nelsonville-York Buckeyes like to run the ball. A lot.
Alex Mount leads the Buckeyes and is second in the TVC-Ohio with 919 yards and nine touchdowns, while Noah Andrews is second on the team with 361 yards and six touchdowns. As a team, the Buckeyes have scored 22 rushing touchdowns compared to two passing touchdowns.
In fact, Athens junior quarterback Joe Burrow has completed 132 passes this season, which is good for more completions than the Buckeyes have passing attempts.
Burrow has thrown for 2,374 yards this season, posting a stellar 71.7 completion percentage with 38 total touchdowns, seven of which have come on the ground. Meanwhile, junior running back Trae Williams has rushed for 26 touchdowns and is 80 yards shy of eclipsing the 1,500-yard mark.
To get the ball back into their hands, Athens’ defensive box will have to load up and stop that heavy rushing attack. A big part of that defensive front is junior linebacker Troy Stalder, who has 78 tackles on the season.
Athens’ defense is allowing a league-best 13.2 points per game while the Buckeyes are good for second, allowing 21.9 points per game. Nelsonville-York must also look out for 6-foot-4 junior wideout Ryan Luehrman, who is 174 receiving yards shy of 1,000.
With a win, the Athens Bulldogs will be able to celebrate a perfect sesaon before diverting their attention to the first round of the playoffs. Athens has secured a home game in round 1.
“We know that we’re in, we know that we’re going to be hosting a home game,” Adams said. “And you certainly want to get through this last week and make sure that you accomplish all the things that you want to get accomplished as you get into that first week of the playoffs.”
Kickoff is schedule for 7:30 p.m. at Basil Rutter Field in Athens, Ohio.