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Athens Eyes 3-0 Start When Hornets Host Gladewater on Friday

Athens QB Anthony Sanders. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

Gladewater Bears (1-1)

vs.

Athens Hornets (2-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Bruce Field, Athens

Coaches
  • Gladewater: Jerrod Baugh
  • Athens: Paul Essary

 

Last week
  • Gladewater: lost to Pittsburg, 35-14
  • Athens: defeated Spring Hill, 42-0

 

Next week
  • Gladewater: vs. Atlanta
  • Athens: at Rusk

 

Playmakers

Gladewater

  • DT Daylon Mack, Jr., 6-1, 311 (9 tackles, 3 for loss, 1 blocked punt)
  • DB Daylon “Duke” Gordon, Jr., 5-10, 155 (22 tackles, 4 for loss, 1 forced fumble, 2 pass break-ups)
  • LB Hagen Cooper, Sr., 5-11, 165 (22 tackles, 4 for loss)
  • RB James Reese, Jr., 5-9, 155 (27 carries, 157 yards, TD)
  • WR Bailey Glenn, Jr., 5-7, 130 (3 catches, 107 yards, TD)
  • RB Marcello Jackson, Soph. (27 carries, 155 yards, TD)
  • QB Nick Canaguier, Jr., 5-10, 140 (11-of-20, 187 yards, TD, INT)
  • OL Justin Stadfield, Sr., 6-3, 310

 

Athens

  • LB Chris Jefferson, Sr., 6-2, 200 (committed to SMU)
  • LB K.J. Cumby, Sr., 6-1, 215
  • QB Anthony Sanders, Sr., 6-0, 185
  • RB Devin Hall, Jr., 5-9, 170
  • DB Logan Fuller, Soph.
  • TE/DL Nic Fincher, Sr., 6-2, 245
  • LB Adam Stallings, Sr., 5-9, 220
  • DE Tyler Russell, Jr., 6-2, 240

 

Just the facts
  • This is the 12th meeting between Gladewater and Athens since 1951. Prior to 2012, the last time these two programs met was 1981.
  • Under head coach Jack Murphy, Gladewater was 205-110-7. But since the legendary coach’s retirement after the 1997 season, the Bears are just 77-86.
  • Gladewater’s last playoff win came in 2001.
  • The Bears have scored just 30 points in two games so far this season after averaging only 17.2 points per game in 2012.
  • Gladewater junior defensive tackle Daylon Mack has 14 offers from FBS programs — Alabama, Arkansas, Baylor, Clemson, Florida State, LSU, Miami, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, SMU, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.
  • Athens has won at least 10 games in a season only twice in school history — 1959 and 2010.
  • The Hornets have qualified for the playoffs in three of coach Paul Essary’s four seasons in charge. Athens had only two postseason appearances in the 16 years prior to his arrival.
  • The combined record of the four teams Athens beat in 2012 — Spring Hill, Mabank, Mineola and Brownsboro — was 13-27.

 

Gladewater DT Daylon Mack. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm))

Key matchup: Athens running game vs. Gladewater defensive front. The Hornets have enjoyed great success on the ground thus far, having rushed for 727 yards in their first two games. Tailback Devin Hall went for 178 yards and three touchdowns and fullback Logan Fuller ran for 94 yards as the Hornets rolled up 438 yards on the ground in the win over Spring Hill last week. Anthony Sanders is also a threat to run at quarterback for the Hornets, who had 11 different ball carriers last Friday. The Hornets’ Wing-T attack relies on a quick and physical offensive line and a multitude of options out of the backfield that can give opposing teams not used to defending the “old-school” scheme headaches.

Athens TE/DE Nic Fincher. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

Fortunately for Gladewater, the Bears happen to have one of the best defensive tackles in the nation in junior Daylon Mack. The monster FBS recruit, when not imposing his will in the interior, is drawing double- and triple-teams that free up other linemen and linebackers to make plays. Mack’s presence in the middle is something that can’t be coached. His size, strength and 4.8 speed make him a difficult assignment for any offensive lineman. Athens’ run-oriented offensive approach gives Gladewater’s defense a clear objective: stopping the run. If the Bears can make a dent in what has thus far been an extremely potent rushing attack, it could give their struggling offense a shot in the arm.

Don’t be surprised if: Athens tries to hit Gladewater with a couple of big plays through the air early. It’s no secret what makes Athens’ offense go, but the surprise element could serve the Hornets well against a defense that will sell out against the run. Sanders is very capable passer, and unlike most Wing-T outfits, Athens will put it in the air 15-20 times in a game if needed. While Athens would prefer to keep things on the ground, if success doesn’t come as easy as it has the last couple weeks, the Hornets won’t be shy in opening up the offense by taking shots deep down the field.

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