NORCROSS - Even with the drop from Class AA to Class A, Wesleyan didn't expect to begin the season ranked No. 10 in the state.
Now that the Wolves are there, though, they hope to justify the unexpected respect.
"I hope this shows that we are starting to live up to it," senior Lee Ellis said of the ranking.
Wesleyan's punt block team certainly did its part on Friday night against visiting Clarkston.
The Wolves blocked three of the Angoras' first four punts and opened the season with a 35-0 non-region victory at Henderson Stadium.
Clarkston, a Class AAA team, has lost 13 consecutive games, but it took miscues by the Angoras' punt unit to get Wesleyan going.
"We had watched film and knew they were slow getting off kicks," Ellis said. "I just came off the ball firing."
Ellis blocked two kicks and Merritt Hall got another as Wesleyan scored three times in the second quarter to take charge after failing to cash in on the first block.
J.J. Russell scored on a 2-yard plunge for the first touchdown and Kyle Karempelis scooped up a blocked punt and ran it in from the 3-yard line for the second TD. Bobby Fulton made it 21-0 at halftime on an 8-yard scamper after his good punt return had set up the Wolves.
Wesleyan lost starting quarterback Conor Welton in the first quarter. But backup Drew Fithian, a senior, filled in well and threw a short TD pass to Ellis late in the third quarter.
Welton, a left-handed passer, hurt his right shoulder on a carry and was held out for the remainder of the game.
"It popped out and popped back in," the junior said. "I'll be ready to play next week."
Welton suffered an ankle injury early last season and missed a good part of the year.
Clarkston had just one first down in the first half, that coming on a 29-yard run by Melvin Whitlock in the first quarter, and two in the second half.
Cole Watson recovered two fumbles for Wesleyan and Daniel Cardwell intercepted a Clarkston pass.
A bad Wolves snap on a punt attempt gave the Angoras the ball at the Wesleyan 10-yard line in the third quarter. But Clarkston lost ground before fumbling on fourth down.
Wesleyan drove 79 yards for its fourth TD. Karempelis, a sophomore, had a 37-yard run and then scored from the 20-yard line with 1:48 left in the third quarter.
The Wolves' final TD came just 23 seconds later. Watson recovered a Clarkston fumble at the 1-yard line and Fithian hit Ellis with a pass before Spencer Short kicked his fifth extra point.
Wesleyan 35, Clarkston 0
Wesleyan: J.J. Russell 2 run (Spencer Short kick) 10:25
Wesleyan: Kyle Karempelis 3 punt block (Short kick) 7:23
Wesleyan: Bobby Fulton 8 run (Short kick) 3:21
Wesleyan: Karempelis 20 run (Short kick) 1:48
Wesleyan: Ellis 1 pass from Drew Fithian (Short kick) 1:25