Last Friday, Athens found itself in unfamiliar territory — trailing at halftime for the first time in five weeks. 

However, the Bulldogs found some bright spots in a shaky performance. Coach Ryan Adams had been urging his offensive line to take the next step. In their 19-18 win over Meigs, the Bulldogs did just that. 

The team rushed for over 150 yards combined, and running back Evan Adams was able to have a breakout performance, running behind an offensive line at the peak of its performance. 

“That’s one of the small steps we took last Friday,” coach Ryan Adams said. 

The Bulldogs need to take more small steps Friday to put together a complete four quarter performance as they travel to Wellston. 

The small steps start with leadership on both sides of the ball. 

“It takes senior leadership,” Ryan Adams said. “Not just senior leadership, but peer leadership.”  

Wellston offers a fair challenge to a stout Bulldog defensive front, as the Golden Rockets play an unfamiliar offensive style — the wing T. 

The wing T is an offense built around deception. The offensive scheme utilizes multiple running backs at once. Employing multiple backs allows Wellston to have a running back carry the ball, while the other back focuses on the gap defender or defensive tackle. It also allows Wellston running backs to catch pitches or passes out of the backfield, a complicated scheme Athens will need to prepare for.

“It’s a different offense to prepare for than anyone else we have all year,” Ryan said. “We’re used to trying to get into a different mindset and different set of gears when we play Wellston.”

With a win Friday, the Bulldogs can continue to bolster their case for the playoffs. They are currently 10th in the OHSAA Division 3 region 11 standings. Following week 10, the top eight teams will qualify for the postseason, making every game crucial for Athens. 

The Bulldog secondary should see a boost as Treyce Albin returns to the lineup to face the Golden Rockets. Albin was sidelined for an undisclosed reason last Friday night. 

“We certainly look forward to having him back on the field,” Ryan Adams said. 

More than anything, Friday night’s game is a chance for Athens to clean up some of the offensive and defensive miscues that have stained some of its performances in recent weeks. 

“I’m not looking for our best game,” Ryan Adams said. “I’m looking for signs of improvement.”