Updated Tue, Aug 19, 2014 4:13 pm
Editor's Note: Over the next two weeks our reporters will be bringing you team previews for each team in the SEOAL, TVC-Ohio, TVC-Hocking, and our West Virginia teams. We continue in the TVC-Ohio, where everyone is chasing the Athens Bulldogs.
It is no secret that the Athens Bulldogs are the favorites to take home the TVC-Ohio title once again in 2014, but this year’s squad will be hoping for much more.
Senior quarterback, Joe Burrow, laid out the team's expectations with one simple sentence: "We want to win a championship."
Head Coach Ryan Adams and the Bulldogs were dominant last year, finishing the regular season a perfect 10-0. They remained unblemished until their disappointing 38-7 loss to Marion Franklin in the Division III Regional Final.
Throughout the 2013 campaign, the Bulldogs leaned on their high-powered offense to bring home the wins each week. Burrow put up video game-like numbers during the regular season, as he led the Bulldogs offense to average an astonishing 57.1 points per game.
Burrow is very confident that his team can produce similar statistics this year.
"We definitely can, as long as we execute to the best of our abilities."
After his phenomenal junior season, Burrow announced over the summer that he had committed to the Ohio State University and coach Urban Meyer. Being a future-Buckeye will put a lot of pressure on the veteran QB’s shoulders, and the expectations for the upcoming season are sure to be through the roof.
"I wanted to get that decision over with before the season started so I could focus without off-the-field distractions," Burrow said.
Fortunately for the Athens faithful, all of “Big Three” are returning this year. Alongside Burrow in the backfield, running back Trae Williams will carry the load on the ground once again. The reigning league champions will also have their top wide receiver returning in Ryan Luehrman, who proved to be Burrow’s favorite target on Friday nights, and will certainly play a big role in the offensive scheme this season.
Even with all of the optimism coming from practice, the two question marks this year lie in the defense and special teams.
"Special teams is an area that we have not had the same level of production that we've had in many years prior," Adams said. "With the talent that we have, we should be able to get ourselves some better field position."
If this more experienced defense can get off the field, the Bulldogs will put themselves in a great position to win another conference crown and make a deep playoff push
"One of the ways that we want to be successful is to play a great, fundamental, 'getting-after-it' style of defense," Adams said.
It all begins for Athens on Aug. 29 as they are set to host the Gallia Academy Blue Devils.
'Gridiron Glory' returns on Friday, Aug. 22 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.