You could feel the energy coming from the Athens sidelines Friday night in its matchup against rival Alexander. The Bulldogs at last got the victory they had been waiting for and walked away with a 41-14 win.
Athens huddled together on the field at the end of the game and cheered as the team celebrated their first win of the season. The win was exciting for the Bulldogs, but the celebrations won’t last too long.
“Tonight feels great, but we’ve got to reset tomorrow,” coach Nathan White said.
Athens came into the game off a tough overtime loss to Marietta 36-28 last week, but that did not affect its mindset in this game. The Bulldogs knew they needed to get back to work and prepare for this game while leaving the past behind them.
“You’ve got to have a short memory and get right back to work, and that’s what our kids did, and I am proud of them,” White said.
Athens leads the rivalry with Alexander 20-4, but the game goes farther than the score on the board for both of these teams.
“This is a fun game for both teams,” White said. “It is a game that is easy for both teams to get excited for and that was noticeable tonight.”
The Bulldogs had many completions on their offense, which was a huge improvement for the team. That, along with stopping plays on defense, is something they have been struggling with. The Bulldogs outperformed their opponent, gaining 304 yards to the Spartans’ 149.
“The execution tonight was much better,” White said. “We made good throws to open guys when we called the right plays and execution was a huge part of tonight’s success.”
A big part of the execution came from quarterback Landon Wheatley. Wheatley completed 12-of-16 passes for 214 yards and three perfectly thrown touchdowns. Athens’ other three touchdowns came on run plays from Luke Brandes.
The Bulldogs defense was successful at stopping the Spartans on third downs. They forced the Spartans to go 0-of-13 on third-down conversions.
Although the win against Alexander was a step in the right direction for Athens, there is always room for improvement.
“No matter what the scoreboard says, there is always plenty to fix,” White said. “After we watch the tape tomorrow morning it’s forgotten and it’s onto the next week.”
Athens will travel to play at Vinton County next Friday looking to keep its energy going and find more success leading into the rest of the season. The kickoff is set for 7 p.m.