Last year Wadley had limited options, which led to a limited offense. But if Friday's 27-7 win over Horseshoe Bend is any indication, all of that is about to change in 2021.
Wadley featured five productive ball-carriers and teased what could be an explosive connection in the passing game as they overcame an early 7-0 deficit to score four unanswered touchdowns.
In all the Bulldogs amassed almost 400 yards of offense, a year after they averaged less than 250 a game.
The difference was in the versatility at the fingertips of head coach Shenan Motley, courtesy of some newcomers to the Wadley roster.
The first offensive play for the Bulldogs was a handoff to senior Dontavious Heard, who broke free down the sideline for a 61-yard gain. Heard has been a student at Wadley throughout his high school career, but this is the first year that he has played football.
Wadley also got a big night from receiver Calon Cottle, another long-time Wadley student (and an all-county basketball player) who is back out playing football after two years off. Cottle caught two passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns, including a huge 81-yard bomb from quarterback Lakevion O'Neal early in the second quarter that gave Wadley a 13-7 lead that they would never surrender. Cottle also had one carry on a jet sweep and turned that into a 29-yard gain.
And then there was Horseshoe Bend transfer Jumall Buchanan, another player who was enrolled at Wadley last year but was not on the football team because of eligibility issues.
In his Bulldog debut he provided a much-needed second option to Jacob Marable in the backfield and finished with 53 yards on eight carries.
Add all that to the known quantities of Marable and O'Neal, who carried the lion's share of the offense last year, and you have the makings of a powerful dynamic when Wadley has the ball.
Marable had an 18-yard touchdown run on his first carry of the season and led the Bulldogs with 75 yards on 13 carries, and O'Neal was on target in the passing game, even if his numbers don't necessarily show it. He completed just 5-of-12 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns, but every one of his passes was on target. He was the victim of a handful of drops by Wadley receivers, and there were a couple of passes that were well defended, but none appeared to be off target.
O'Neal also iced the game in the fourth quarter with a 19-yard touchdown run, and had a huge interception on defense in the first half that allowed Wadley to go into halftime with a 13-7 lead.
And outside of Horseshoe Bend's opening drive, the Wadley defense was just as impressive.
The Generals opened the game with an 11-play, 67-yard drive that ate up 6:40 of the first quarter clock and put Wadley behind 7-0.
But after that the Generals managed just 112 yards of total offense on their remaining seven possessions.
It was a promising, but far from perfect start for the 1-0 Bulldogs, who will receive another test at home next week against Ranburne, which beat White Plains 28-26 in its opener Friday.
Clay Central 34, Chilton County 7
Fayetteville 21, Woodland 12
Handley 55, Guntersville 21 (Thursday)
Look for full coverage of all of these games in next week's print edition of the Randolph Leader.