File Photo Wesleyan quarterback Will Anderson looks to throw the ball during a game last season.
WESLEYAN AT WEBB SCHOOL
Wesleyan Wolves (6-AA)
Coach: Franklin Pridgen
Last week: Lost to Jefferson County 33-0
Webb School Spartans (Tenn.)
Coach: David Meske
Last week: Beat Knoxville Catholic 13-0
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: First meeting
Directions: Take I-75 north to exit 376 to merge onto Tennessee-162 north toward Oak Road. Take the Dutchtown Road exit. Merge onto Sherrill Blvd. Turn left onto Mabry Hood Road NW. Take the first right onto Webb School Lane.
When Franklin Pridgen says his Wesleyan team went back to basics this week, he means it.
It's more than just a focus on fundamentals of football on the field.
"We've gone back to looking at the little things," Pridgen said. "From the way we keep the locker room clean to the way we stretch."
Sure, maybe that seems like minutiae. Maybe it seems too insignificant in the wake of a 33-0 loss at the hands of Jefferson County last week.
Not to Pridgen.
Little things add up to big things.
Start as you mean to go on.
"Those things are a big deal because it teaches you attention to detail," Pridgen said.
The Wolves (3-2) have dropped two straight games and again today go on the road to play Webb School of Knoxville (5-1).
"We had a back-to-basics week," Pridgen said, joking a little about seeming like an obvious choice from the coach's manual after getting soundly beat. "We've also used it as a wake-up call. We screwed up on little things that turned into big problems."
After a long drive to Jefferson County, one of the smallest schools in Class AAA, Wesleyan's inexperience showed against the Warriors.
"Frankly, they were just a better team than us," Pridgen said. "But we hurt ourselves in a couple of situations that made the score seem a little worse than it was.
"We've still got a very inexperience football team, not just because of the young kids, but also because we have some older kids that have never really had a chance to play before. Inexperience means that, every week, somebody is going to make mistakes."
The Wolves struggled in open space against a bigger, more athletic Jefferson County team and didn't tackle well.
"I just want us to keep taking steps forward and we did that," Pridgen said.
Wesleyan is having to go through some of these growing pains because of new region alignments. The state high school reclassification put the Wolves in a region with just four other teams. Filling the other half of the schedule wasn't easy.
"We had to get non-region games in Week 5 and 6," Pridgen said. "It's very, very unusual. Lovett, us and GAC are all playing at least one out-of-state game. I did not seek out Jefferson. They called me.
"The really hard one to find was Week 6. I know Webb's coach by reputation and they were available. I know it's a good place to play. It's not that far away. I would rather not travel this much, but it's the best we could do."
The silver lining is that the Wolves are getting to play good teams, which in turn, hopefully, makes them better.
"You don't want to play a bunch of teams that you're going to blow the doors off because you don't know how good you really are," Pridgen said. "You get away with bad habits. Then you get to the point that you get to play someone good and it bites you.
"We're going up there expecting to win. Our kids are capable. We can certainly win if we play our best. However, they are certainly no pushover. It will be a war."
Webb School, about a four-hour drive north up Interstate 75, is riding a five-game winning streak after losing its season opener. Until last week's 13-0 victory over Knoxville Catholic, none of the Spartans' wins were close.
Wesleyan worked on some new defensive schemes to use against Webb and also made some changes in the starting lineups. The Wolves juggled some regular starters around to different spots on the offensive line and are giving some new starters an opportunity on defense.
"I don't know if this is a big game for them." Pridgen said. "They don't know us. We're just little Wesleyan from Norcross. But I know their coaches are saying it's big because it's the next game on the schedule.
"It's a big game for us because we need to get the bad taste from last week out of our mouths."