Athens will return to R. Basil Rutter Field on Friday for a 7:30 p.m. clash with Vinton County for the annual homecoming game. The contest comes a week after Athens began its conference schedule with a 50-0 road win at Alexander. 

Athens (3-1, 1-0 Tri-Valley Conference) finished with over 300 yards of total offense in its victory against Alexander last week, and it saw significant differences in its passing game. 

Senior quarterback Clay Davis' deep ball was effective last week. He threw for 167 yards, going 8-for-16 through the air. 

Davis’s transition into being more of a dual-threat quarterback this season has been a big boost for the Bulldogs. 

“(It’s) his mobility and his ability to hurt you with his legs,” Athens coach Ryan Adams said. “He’s had nice numbers in terms of rushing this year versus what I’m sure they were compared to last year at this time. That certainly creates problems for defenses. Any time that you got a dual-threat quarterback that can hurt you with his legs or his arm, is definitely harder to defend.”

Vinton County (1-3, 0-1 TVC) will enter this year’s match-up with a new offensive identity, too. 

Since losing All-Ohio quarterback Naylan Yates to graduation, Vinton County has transitioned from a passing team to a rushing team. 

The Vikings ran the ball a total of 59 times and only threw the ball twice, going 0-for-2, last week in a 27-21 overtime loss against Meigs. 

“It’s going to be a battle of whether or not they can control the clock, sustain drives and limit our opportunities to score,” Adams said. 

In the match-up with the Vikings, a main focus for the Bulldogs will be getting off to a better start. Although they dominated every phase of their game last week, Adams still had concerns over his team’s sluggish start.

“You talk to them and question the team in terms of what is it that they’re doing,” Adams said. “Where are their priorities? Are we thinking about what’s going on tonight or are we thinking about what’s going on right now?”

And as the Bulldogs approach the halfway point of the regular season, Adams wants to make sure his players are still taking things slowly — one game at a time, and not letting any distractions get to them.

“We always preach that you got to live in the present,” Adams said. “You can’t live in the past and you certainly can’t look forward to the future when you’ve got a football game ahead of you.”

Athens has the advantage historically coming into Friday’s game against its opponent from McArthur. 

It’s been 23 years since the Vikings last beat the Bulldogs in football. 

But although it’s been a long time since 1995, Adams is still giving the Vikings his full attention and respect. 

“We certainly do have a tremendous amount of depth on this football team — we got a lot of really good kids that work really, really hard,” Adams said. “But you know, football’s one of them funny things — no different in life. Things can sneak up out of nowhere and bite you when you least expect it so you’ve always got to be on your toes. You can’t take anything for granted.” 

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