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No. 1 Wolves expect test from speedy Red Devils

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips
Wesleyan's Brady Donovan sacks Athens Academy quarterback Mark Sanders (13).

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips Wesleyan's Brady Donovan sacks Athens Academy quarterback Mark Sanders (13).

As soon as Kyle Karempelis broke Wesleyan's career rushing record during the third quarter of last week's win, the starters came off the field.

The top-ranked Wolves rolled to a 45-13 victory over Whitefield Academy in the first round of the Class A playoffs and Whitefield didn't even get on the board until the fourth quarter.

It was another dominating performance from the defending state champions, who are 11-0 and have outscored their opponents 454-38.

"I'm not unhappy with anything," head coach Franklin Pridgen said. "There are always ways to improve. I would like to see us get better at kickoff coverage.

"But as far as the big picture, I certainly like the way we're playing. I like the focus and the intensity. Because things are only going to continue to get tougher."

The Wolves get another home game in the second round with No. 10 Bowdon visiting tonight. The Red Devils have only lost one game this season and feature a number of offensive threats.

"They're the fastest team we've played all season, just exceptionally dangerous in the offensive backfield," Pridgen said. "Their size doesn't scare me, but they're certainly scrappy and very physical.

"Their quarterback is elusive and dangerous and of course, they're coached by one of the best guys in the business. It's a tremendous challenge for us."

Pridgen had his players focus on defensive assignments this week. He's also added some new wrinkles to a highly productive offense led by Karempelis and QB Conor Welton, who is nearing the school's all-time passing record.

"Offensively, we have some new route combinations that we're going to roll out that I'm looking forward to," Pridgen said.

Comparing Bowdon to a team the Wolves have already played this season, Pridgen said the Red Devils resemble Commerce. Wesleyan's closest game in terms of the final score was against Commerce, a 28-3 win.

"They're very physical, very fast and extremely well-coached," Pridgen said.

All that said, the battleground today is at the line of scrimmage.

"We've got to take the fight to them," Pridgen said. "That's kind of been our rally cry and that starts up from the offensive and defensive lines. We have to get after them."