A week ago, the Athens Wildcats held on to defeat fellow NTL team Troy in the first round of districts.

Now, they face another tough test as they head to Danville to take on the top-seeded Ironmen.

One of the keys for the Wildcats will be their health after they suffered some injuries last week.

"We won't know really how healthy we are until Friday," Young said. "I think we'll have everybody on the field and the kids will give everything they've got."

No matter who takes the field on Friday, Young knows his team needs to play a good game.

"We have put together a game plan for ourselves offensively and defensively," he said. "We've had a good week of practice. We need to play physical, do our thing and see what happens.

'I think it just comes right down to the basics. We need to do a real good job tackling. We need to be as physical as we can on the line of scrimmage. We can't let them bully us around. Fundamentally we need to execute our responsibility. We can't give them extra yards on anything or give up big plays. If we can do that we have a good opportunity to win."

One of the keys for Athens will be to run the ball well.

"That's our plan, we want to do anything we can to establish a run," Young said. "We have to make sure their edge players won't cheat on us. If they are cheating one way or the other we want to take advantage of it."

And, in order to run the ball well, Young knows it starts with his line.

"They have a good understanding of what we want to do," he said. "Our offense only goes as far as they take us. We need to establish a good ground game and get the ball in the playmakers hands."

Athens knows they need to not give up big plays on defense.

"Bottom line, if their offense wants to put points on the board, they have to earn it," Yoaid. "When things get going tough, somebody needs to step up and make a big play. We cannot get down when the team's driving on us. We are not going to shut Danville's offense down, we just need to avoid the big plays and force some beaks our way."

Athens has been through a lot this year and Young thinks it has made them closer as a team.

"They are resilient," he said. "They've faced a lot of adversity this year. Just some of the emotional type things that go on, the few serious injuries we have had on this team. The guys have stuck together, they have taken all the adversity head on. And, I think that will be the case Friday night. We are going there and we are going to give it everything we have and see if we can make a run.

"We have a big, strong senior class. They've done a great job being leaders this year. It's all the things this group has faced. Losing a friend in a car accident, realizing this is just a game. When it comes time to play, be prepared, lay it all on the line. The next day hold their heads up high no matter what. We have had a couple tough losses and they have just kind of shaken them off. They make everyone at Athens proud."


Today, 7 p.m.


Rushing: Tyler Birdsall 218-1463-12; Austin Depew 38-191-3

Passing: Troy Stivason 72-157-1257-16-8

Receiving: Ray McDougan 31-484-8; Brad Sampson 16-295-5; Curt Moore 11-300-3; Garrett Clark 10-204-2

NOTES: Averaging 125.2 yards a game passing and 190.2 per contest rushing and are scoring 34.3 a game. . . Stivason is a weapon on special teams, having made a 50-plus yard field goal this season.


Rushing: Sam Dressler 209-1043-9; Isaiah Croll 100-589-4

Passing: Weston Baylor 85-155-1182-15-9

Receiving: Bret Berg 31-431-6; Cale Rice 15-200-5; Zack Kozick 21-332-2; Croll 10-163-2

NOTES: Rice has seven interceptions this year, while Kozick has five and Berg has four as the Ironmen have 20 interceptions on the year. . . Avreage 107.7 yards passing a game and 203.3 rushing and 23.5 points a game.