Athens powers by Pontiac For the Red Hawks Second Win of the Season
- By Jake Thielen
- September 2, 2011
Troy Athens High School’s football team won just three games last season, but this year’s team is already one win from matching that total, after a 27-14 win over Pontiac on Friday night.
Red Hawks’ running back Kris Gervin, an Orchard Lake St. Mary’s transfer, ran for three touchdowns to lead the team in what was both the home opener and the Oakland Activities Association Red Division opener for Athens (2-0).
The Red Hawks got off to a strong start thanks in part to a defense that swarmed to the ball all night long.
Junior linebacker Ivan Kharchenko got Athens on the board on the first play of the second quarter with a 29-yard interception return for a touchdown. The Red Hawks’ defense, led by Branden Terry and Alex Lewis, forced two fumbles in the second quarter that led to two Gervin touchdown runs.
Josh Heppner, head coach for Athens, said he was pleased with the way the defense shut down the Phoenix attack. Terry, in particular, had a key sack to go along with his fumble recovery, he said.
“(Terry) did a great job for us and I’m extremely proud of him for stepping up his senior year,” Heppner said. “I’ve been challenging him, and he’s rising to the challenge for us.”
Athens didn’t have a competed pass in the game, but strong efforts from Gervin and senior Lonnie Bolden on the ground were enough to get the Red Hawks the win. Gervin credited the line for opening up holes for him to run through.
“The offensive lineman work extra hard in practice and they’re always doing their job,” Gervin said. “We couldn’t have done what we did without them.”
Heppner said the team played very well in terms of physical play, which was something he stressed in practice this week.
“We’re not going to quit, and we’re going to stay focused for four quarters,” Heppner said. “We played with great character and great integrity and we need to just continue to trust each other.”
In a wild sequence at the end of the first half, Pontiac’s Ronnie Craft-Bush intercepted a pass and returned 80 yards for a touchdown with just two seconds remaining to bring the Phoenix within two scores, 20-6. However, on the ensuing kickoff, the Pontiac kick went out of bounds giving Athens one final play in the half.
Gervin took the hand off on that play and raced 56 yards down the left sideline for his third touchdown of the half, putting Athens back on top, 27-6.
Pontiac scored on its opening drive of the second half, but it was unable to make up the deficit. Athens safety Sam Haskell sealed the game with an interception with just 2:17 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Haskell said the team’s effort in practice this week paid off during the game.
“We stepped up big this week,” Haskell said. “Before we struggled against the run, but we worked on that this week (in practice) and it really helped us. We have a good team, we just have to get mentally ready and play as a team.”
The Red Hawks will look to improve to 3-0 next Friday on the road against a tough Clarkston team that is also undefeated. Bolden and the other Red Hawks are confident that this year’s team can build on its first two games and surpass last year’s win total.
“We have a whole different team from last year,” Bolden said. “Our mindset’s different and we have a better work ethic. We have (Gervin) and a bunch of new transfers and we’re just working to get there.”
- No scoring
- Athens: (11:53) Ivan Kharchenko, 29-yard interception return (Sandy Mouch kick)
- Athens: (8:50) Kris Gervin, 1-yard run (Mouch kick)
- Athens: (7:11) Kris Gervin, 13-yard run (kick failed)
- Pontiac: (0:02) Ronnie Craft-Bush, 80-yard interception return (conversion failed)
- Athens: (0:00) Kris Gervin, 56-yard run (Mouch kick)
- Pontiac: (7:44) Jody Harrison, 2-yard run (2-point — Trajan Seay pass from Harrison)
- No scoring