Wesleyan’s Christian Stark (7) runs the ball against Lakeview Academy earlier this season. (Photo: Kyle Hess)
It was must-win last week for the Wesleyan Wolves — and they did.
Wesleyan’s victory over Hapeville Charter in its region opener ensured a playoff berth and certainly the team has enjoyed the moment. It was also the second straight win after what was a tough start to the season.
“We are excited about that,” Wolves head coach Franklin Pridgen said. “But we are well aware of what we face now.”
Wesleyan will have to run the gauntlet of region powers with Westminster today, followed by Lovett and GAC before getting its bye week.
“Our kids are not intimidated,” Pridgen said. “They are eager to get out there. We will be challenged to the max starting Friday against Westminster. We make no bones about that.
“But we also talk a lot about opportunity here. We don’t talk about what we can’t do.”
Pridgen is a Westminster alum and has three assistants on staff who worked for longtime Wildcats coach Gerry Romberg.
“Westminster is extraordinarily well-coached,” Pridgen said. “Gerry Romberg is one of the best in the business.
“They’ve got speed where they need it and tremendous size, especially in the front seven.”
The Wildcats also have something to prove after getting thumped 49-3 last week by GAC.
“They want to show people they righted the ship,” Pridgen said.
So Wesleyan is expecting a big effort from a strong team. The blossoming defensive line is coming off an excellent performance against Hapeville Charter and keyed by three seniors.
“Stuart Johnson, Ryan Brennan and Heath Middlebrooks are doing a fine job,” Pridgen said. “The defensive line has definitely taken a lot of steps forward. But they still need to be more explosive and assert themselves.”
Four of the Wolves five losses this season have come by a collective 18 points.
“Nobody here is interested in moral victories,” Pridgen said. “The wins have galvanized us and we know we’re a lot better than we look on paper.
“We want to finish the regular season strong and then take a much-needed week off after playing 10 in a row. Hopefully we will streak into the playoffs and maybe get underestimated.”
WESLEYAN WOLVES (6-AA)
Coach: Franklin Pridgen
Record: 2-5, 1-0 region
Last week: Beat Hapeville Charter 35-20
WESTMINSTER WILDCATS (6-AA)
Coach: Gerry Romberg
Record: 3-4, 0-1 region
Last week: Lost to GAC 49-3
Last meeting: Westminster won 42-17 last year
Directions to Westminster: I-85 south to I-75 north and take exit 255, which is West Paces Ferry/Northside Parkway. Turn left off the exit ramp onto 41, go left at light on West Paces Ferry. Go under a bridge and the Westminster exit is on the left.