Large obstacles abound tonight for the Wesleyan football team.
First there's 6-foot-5, 370-pound lineman Lionel Mapp, a Division I prospect.
Then there's his Greene County team, ranked fourth in Class AA with a perfect 10-0 record. Aside from a 14-7 win over Washington County, a AAA team, the Tigers have destroyed every opponent on the schedule by huge margins.
So Wesleyan, at 5-4-1, looks like a longshot in tonight's first-round, Class AA playoff game. The Wolves had to win a Monday night mini-game just to get to the postseason.
"They're a great, great team," Wesleyan head coach Phillip Deas said. "It's a situation where you have to like being the underdog and that's where we're at."
Greene County's most widely known player is Mapp, an offensive and defensive tackle. He takes up plenty of space and is a major run-stopper.
Fortunately Wesleyan's all-out passing attack doesn't require too much running, so Deas hopes the throwing of quarterback Tony Plagman (2,594 passing yards) neutralizes Mapp's strength of playing the run.
"(Mapp's) huge. He's a big dude," Deas said. "He makes everybody else out there look like midgets."
Offensively the Tigers don't grind it out running behind Mapp. Instead they employ a spread offense with quarterback Josh Nesbit throwing the ball all over the field.
Between the two teams the passes should be flying around tonight.
"(Greene County) spreads you out with four or five wide receivers and they throw almost every play," Deas said. "The quarterback's real special. He can really throw, but he can run it, too."
Although his team is an underdog, Deas feels like his team can pull of an upset tonight. Wesleyan has played two other state-ranked powers, losing only 13-7 to Greater Atlanta Christian and 21-0 to Buford. Unlike Greene County, the Wolves also have experience in tight games that Deas hopes will help out if his squad can keep it close.
"This is our sixth straight trip to the playoffs, but we're talking to our guys about we've got to take the next step," Deas said. "We want to be a consistent Elite Eight, quarterfinal type team."