Wesleyan players run out of the banner prior to the start of the game against Lakeview Academy earlier this season. (Photo: Kyle Hess)
Franklin Pridgen and the Wesleyan coaching staff had a rare chance for some advance scouting of their first-round playoff opponent.
It’s a small bit of compensation for playing 10 straight weeks before getting a bye.
The Wolves made the most of their opportunity, going to watch Washington-Wilkes in it’s regular-season finale against Social Circle last Friday.
“We got a chance to get our ducks in a row,” Pridgen said. “We feel like we’re ahead of the game. Now we need to take advantage of it. Washington-Wilkes is talented and very capable, so the more time we have to prepare, the better.”
Wesleyan was almost certainly locked into the No. 4 seed even before Lovett beat GAC for the Region 6-AA title last Friday.
Washington-Wilkes was the odd-on bet to be the top seed from Region 8-AA and finished a perfect regular season with a 48-0 win.
Pridgen was there to see the Tigers first-hand and made use of the extra time to prepare the young Wolves for yet another challenge.
“We’ve got to do a better job containing their outside running game,” Pridgen said. “They’ve got the biggest offensive line I’ve seen in years in Class AA. Several of them are over 300 pounds.
“We want to force them into a position where they have to throw the ball. They throw the ball well, but they want to run the ball and run the ball on the perimeter. So we have got to do a better job filling lanes.”
Washington-Wilkes has scored an average of 45 points a game this season while not allowing any more than 16.
But Pridgen said a couple of weeks ago that he was confident whoever Wesleyan got in the playoffs wasn’t going to be better than the three teams they had to face to round out the region schedule — Westminster, Lovett and GAC. He still thinks that’s true.
“And that’s no disrespect,” Pridgen said. “Even Coach Rob (Robinson) from Washington-Wilkes said we play in the hardest AA region in the state. He acknowledges where we’ve been. I don’t think they’re any better than the three teams we just played.”
The last two weeks have been a combination of rest and focus.
“Our kids are in a great frame of mind,” Pridgen said. “They had a chance to renew themselves last week. They had fun. They have overcome a great deal this season. We knew about the challenges coming in and we also found a few new ones.
“They feel like they’ve survived a great battle. They had some R&R and now they’re ready to get back into combat. They’re excited about this chance. They know we’ve played teams as good as Washington-Wilkes and been competitive.”
WESLEYAN WOLVES (6-AA)
Coach: Franklin Pridgen
Last week: Had a bye
WASHINGTON-WILKES TIGERS (8-AA)
Coach: Robby Robinson
Last week: Beat Social Circle 48-0
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: First meeting
Directions to Washington-Wilkes: Take Ga. Highway 316 east to Athens. Use the Georgia 10 Loop south ramp to U.S. 29 north/U.S. 78 east. Take exit 8 for Lexington Road. Keep right at the fork and follow signs for Lexington/Washington. Turn right on Ga. Highway 10/U.S. 78 east. Go 41 miles and turn right on Alexander Ave. Take the third left onto E. Robert Toombs Ave. and the third right onto Pecan St. Make a slight left onto Tiger Circle.