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Wesleyan Looks for Second Title in Three Years | News

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Wesleyan Looks for Second Title in Three Years
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NORCROSS, GA -- Wesleyan is no stranger to success. In 2008, Wesleyan beat ECI to win the Single-A state championship. In 2009, the Wolves lost to the eventual state champions, Wilcox County, in the quarterfinals. Now, head coach Franklin Pridgen's team is 12-1 and faces Savannah Christian (12-1) in the semifinals. And even though Wesleyan has been in this position before, things are different this time around.

"Every year is a little bit different," Pridgen said. "The culture's not different; you don't ever want that to change... [But] its' a little different because each team has a different identity... Each team has a different personality. Each senior class has a different personality."

And this senior class has a big personality, at least numerically speaking. Pridgen said it is the biggest senior class he has had.

"They've been in this position before," Pridgen said, "So there's no reason for them not to be focused... Many of them started their sophomore year and this team is very mature."

Last week, Wesleyan played Nick Marshall-led Wilcox County, the team that knocked Wesleyan out of the playoffs last year. Marshall, a dual-threat quarterback, posed several unique challenges for the Wesleyan defense; the UGA commit could throw and run exceptionally well.

The Wolves came ready to play and avenged their 2009 loss with a 45-28 victory over the Patriots. This week, there will be some differences in the game plan, but on offense, Pridgen will be looking for more of the same.

"Things were different last week when we were preparing for Nick Marshall at Wilcox County so our approach this week has been a little different. But offensively, nothing changes. We are what we are and we do what we do," Pridgen said, adding, "We're going to dance with the girl that brought us, as the saying goes."

Thanks to a senior running back Kyle Karempelis, quarterback Drew Widner, and what Pridgen considers to be his best offensive line ever, Wesleyan has averaged over 42 points per game this postseason.

Points will not come easy against Savannah Christian's defense. When the Raiders gave up 14 points to Lincoln County, it was the most points they had allowed in any one game this season. They have held opposing defenses to single-digits eleven out of thirteen times.

In order to move the ball, Pridgen said his team will need balance. "We can throw the ball well and run the ball well. We can't find ourselves one-dimensional. All week, I've been hearing about the vaunted Savannah Christian defense and statistically, they look very good and on film, they look very good," the Wolves' coach said.

Wesleyan will have home field advantage in the game, but Pridgen is not sure as to how helpful that will be. "It's going to be big for us, but I don't know if it means anything for Savannah Christian because they've been on the road the whole playoffs. They've been to the four corners of the Earth; they've gone to Mitchell County, Charlton County, and Lincoln County, so Norcross should not be too bad for them," he said.

Wesleyan has posted a 37-4 record since the 2008 season kicked off. And since his team has played on the big stage before, he does not expect the Wolves to show any sort of semifinal jitters. "We'll be ready to play," he said. "They shouldn't get caught up in the novelty of it all; there shouldn't be that awe factor. Right now, we're right where we want to be and doing what we want to do."

If Wesleyan wins, they will face either Clinch County or Wilkinson County in the Single-A state championship.

 

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