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Maroa-Forsyth Athens 9 10.11.19.JPG

The Athens defense takes down a Maroa-Forsyth runner in a game earlier this season. Athens will play Casey-Westfield in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs.

ATHENS — Saturday's Class 1A opponent for Casey-Westfield features a strong running game.  The first round football playoff game is set for 2 p.m.  The winner takes on the victor of the Salt Fork at Camp Point Central game. 

Athens, a team with the same nickname of Warriors, enters as the No. 9 team in the final Associated Press rankings. 

They have averaged 337. 7 yards per game on the ground and 42.3 through the air. The top running back for the 7-2 team is Deyson Davis, a 6-0 junior, who averages 108.4 yards per game and needs just 24 yards to reach the 1,000-yard mark. Nic Laird, a 5-10, 190 sophomore is next with an average of 78.4 yards per game and Isaiah Cody, a 5-9 junior, averages 66.2 yards per game. 

Athens competes in the Sangamo Conference and has an enrollment of 296. it is the team's 10th straight appearance. The 2017 team reached the Class 1A semifinals before losing to Tuscola 21-14.  Last year's team lost in the second round to Decatur St. Teressa 48-7 in Class 2A. 

The two losses for Athens were in the season-opener to Williamsville 27-12. Williamsville is 9-0 and is in the No.1 team in Class 3A. The 27 points is the fewest the Bullets have scored this season. The other loss was a 21-7 game to Maroa-Forsyth, the 3 team in Class 2A and the 21 points were also the fewest points the Trojans have scored. 

Athens beat two playoff teams in Auburn, a Class 2A playoff team, 48-7 and North Mac 20-0, a Class 3A playoff team. Other victories were against Pleasant Plains 54-0, Petersburg PORTA/A-C Central 52-0, Riverton 76-12, Pittsfield 42-0 and New Berlin/Franklin/Waverly. 

In the win over Auburn, Riley Lopain had 11 tackles, including two for a loss, while Kolbe Kinney had two sacks. 

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Auburn was held to two first downs in the first half and Athens coach Ryan Knox, who is 85-45 in his 12t year., was extremely pleased with the defensive play. 

In that game, Athens had six different rushers score. Davis had 137 yards, while Laird had 79 and Isaiah Cody had 67.  The seven points for Auburn, who averages 34 points per game, was the fewest during the season. 

Athens averages 39.2 points per game and allows just 11, which is the fourth-lowest out of the 32 teams. 

There are 14 seniors on the squad for Athens, who is 12-10 in the playoffs all-time and never made the postseason until 2008. 

Jack Richards, a 6-0 senior, is the Athens quarterback and he is 24-of-39 for 381 yards and three touchdowns with the top receiver being Kaleb Childress, who has four for 90 yards. 

Lopian, a 5-11 200 pound senior middle linebacker is the top tackler with an average of 6.7 per game and he is followed by Davis, who averages 5.9 and Dylan Fletcher averages 5.4. The team averages three tackles for loss a game as well as one sack and one interception per game. Wyatt Boyer has six picks to lead the team.  

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Contact Mike Monahan at (217)-238-6854. Follow him on Twitter: @monahanmikejgtc

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