Wesleyan draws No. 1 Calhoun in first round

Wesleyan's Rhett Delk leads the Wolves' during a pregame chant prior to running out of the banner during a game earlier this season.

Wesleyan's Rhett Delk leads the Wolves' during a pregame chant prior to running out of the banner during a game earlier this season.

Wesleyan at Calhoun

Wesleyan Wolves (6-AA)

Coach: Franklin Pridgen

Record: 4-6, 1-3 in region

Last week: Had a bye

Calhoun Yellow Jackets (7-AA)

Coach: Hal Lamb

Record: 10-0, 7-0 in region

Last week: Beat Chattooga 49-14

When: Today, 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Calhoun won 31-21 in the first round of the 2006 playoffs

Directions to Calhoun High School: Take I-75 north to exit 312 for GA-53 west and turn left. Take a slight right onto US-41 north (Wall St.). Turn left on Court St. and left on Yellow Jacket St.

NORCROSS -- Wesleyan is working its way up to the top.

The Wolves finished their regular season with a pair of top-10 teams in GAC and Lovett before enjoying their bye week. The extra time to recuperate and prepare for the playoffs came at a great time. Because now Wesleyan gets to play the consensus No. 1 in Class AA, undefeated Calhoun.

The Yellow Jackets are the defending state champions, won their 12th straight region title this season and have shut out four of their last six opponents.

"We are playing the hand we are dealt -- and we've done that since the GHSA made us the smallest school in AA," Wolves head coach Franklin Pridgen said.

Wesleyan is familiar with making the trip north to Calhoun. It's been a few years, but these two met three times during the playoffs from 2003 to 2006.

"We're quite OK going up there," Pridgen said. "The guys are loose. There's no pressure whatsoever. No one outside of our football program gives us a spitball's chance. That's fine. Our kids say, 'Why don't we take a shot at it? Let's not be tentative.' So that's what we intend to do."

The Wolves beat Calhoun in 2003, led by future NFLer Chad Hall and played the Yellow Jackets tight in a 2006 loss. Calhoun was the clear victor in the 2004 first-round clash.

"We have tremendous respect for them," Pridgen said. "We beat them once and played them tough one time, so I hope they have respect for us, too."

Wesleyan's plan centers primarily on neutralizing Calhoun's quarterback, Taylor Lamb, a South Alabama commit.

"He's the head coach's nephew and a fantastic player," Pridgen said. "We watched him live (last) Friday. He clearly makes them go. They have plenty of talent around him, but he's the engine that drives that car.

"We want to keep him off balance as much as we can in terms of coverage and pressure. And we think we've come up with those things. But if we don't keep him out of a rhythm, they are who they are, and we will have a tough time."

The Wolves got their bye week at the end of the regular season and took the opportunity to rest up a little. Pridgen gave the players Monday and Friday of last week off. Practices during the week were shortened slightly, but the lifting schedule remained the same.

"The drills we had were spirited for sure," Pridgen said. "I think the kids seem to be refreshed. Ten weeks in a row is unbelievable. To get to the 11th week and have a chance to relax is great. And we were able to start working on Calhoun.

"We had a plan in mind already, but we refined it this week."