Athens head coach Zac Harrell knows physicality is the name of the game Friday at Palestine.
The Hornets (4-3 overall and 0-3 in District 9-4A, Division I) look to end a three-game losing streak against the third-place team in the district.
Palestine (5-3 overall, 3-1 in district) looks to come out with a Homecoming victory, with kickoff at 7:30 p.m. from Wildcat Stadium.
“They are true smash mouth football on both sides of the ball,” Harrell said. “They are very physical and they are the most physical team we have played. Offensively, they are 93-percent run and they want to run in with a Wing-T downhill. They are very physical and defensively, they will put seven men in the box and make it very difficult to run the football.”
For the Wildcats, the focus for Athens is senior running back Jakaryon Conley. He has rushed for 1,107 yards and nine touchdowns for an average of 7.0 yards a carry.
Harrell said they will try to limit time of possession with Conley as 12 players have had carries this season under coach Lance Angel.
Defensively, they are led by nose guard Dawaylyn Lewis, who is also their best offensive lineman, according to Harrell. They also have defensive ends Dominique Milton and Anthony McLaughlin.
“They want to try to force you to throw it so we are going to have to try and make plays in the passing game and find ways to run the football as well,” Harrell said. “The strength of their defense is in the defensive line. They are very good up front and by far the best defense we have played so it is going to be a great challenge for us.”
Harrell said in his weekly keys to the game, that it was a week to challenge the team in all aspects of the football game.
“The keys are we have to attempt to outmatch their physicality,” Harrell said. “We have to grit our teeth and we can’t bow down from the opening kickoff. We have to make plays in the passing game because they dare you to throw the football. We have to tackle and can’t miss tackles. We have to finish drives and we have to make another game changing play on special teams. “