After months of training and hours of practice and film, the Wesleyan football team fought their way to their first Georgia High School State Championship since 2008. The football team and coaching staff put in six months of work to make it this far, and the outcome of the state game on Dec. 13, 2019 will not be soon forgotten. Sophomore Cooper Blauser and senior Josh Morris gave insight on what it took to make it to the game at the Georgia State Stadium. Additionally, wide receiver coach Candler Baxley reflected on the outcome of the game at its conclusion.
Starting receiver and corner Blauser said, “It was an amazing feeling to start in a Wesleyan state football game as a sophomore, not feeling any added pressure, but realizing the stakes were a lot higher than a regular season game.” When asked how the team prepared for the big game, Blauser said, “The vibe leading up to the game was all business. Everybody knew what was on the line, and everybody took it very seriously. We love having fun at practice, but we practiced with a different intensity leading up to the game.”
Wesleyan’s state championship opponent and biggest rival during the regular football season, Eagles Landing Christian Academy (ELCA) had an impressive season as well, going nearly undefeated and taking home the title of 1A Private Football State Champions for their fourth year in a row. However, the effort and determination the Wesleyan football team practiced with during the week was exhibited during their performance on the field that day, putting an impressive 13 points up on the scoreboard against ELCA. Along with Blauser, senior Morris gave similar insight to the game and reflection on his high school football career.
Morris, though injured much of the season, finished as a captain of the team and offensive receiver. When asked how it felt to end his football career with a state championship, Morris said, “I never thought my grade would be the senior class to make it to the state game. It was sad to lose, but there was no feeling like being there. “It was definitely a cool experience.” The hard work and dedication the football team put into their final few weeks was obvious from the sidelines, stands and screen.
Morris, when asked what four years as a Wesleyan football player has taught him, additionally said, “I’ve learned what an impact doing something both physically and emotionally challenging with the people you care about can have on you and the way it shapes you,” as is applicable to any Wesleyan sport through the amazing coaching staff and team members. Additionally, football coach Candler Baxley was an integral part of the Wesleyan football team’s success throughout the fall season.
When asked how it felt to coach such a great end of season state game, Offensive Wide Receiver Coach Baxley said, “It was a ton of fun and really rewarding to get to be a part of a great playoff run and the state championship game this season. Seeing the team improve throughout the season and peak during the playoffs was an awesome experience.” Baxley has been a Wesleyan football coach for many years, so when asked how holding that position has affected him, he said, “Being a Wesleyan football coach for so many years has been an incredible experience. Coach Pridgen does such a great job of leading our team and creating such a positive and uplifting environment for our players and coaches. I feel really fortunate to be able to work with such a great group of players and coaches every day.” Baxley’s response reflected that of Morris, stating that they both felt an impact from being a part of something as special as the Wesleyan football community.
Concluding the six-month football season, the Wesleyan Wolves finished strong in the state championship game against ELCA and showed grace and humility in the defeat. Blauser, Morris and Baxley all enjoyed the opportunity to be such a tremendous part of one of Wesleyan athletics biggest moments. As the football season gears back up in the impending months, all Wesleyan Wolves have their eyes on the prize: the state championship ring.