Rivals Troy High, Athens Prepare for Clash on Soccer Field Tonight
Top-ranked Colts shoot to remain undefeated in cross-town game vs. Red Hawks at Athens.
The Colts (6-0) have been impressive so far this season, earning wins over MIHSSCA honorable mention teams Detroit Catholic Central and Walled Lake Northern, as well as Oakland Activities Association foes Stoney Creek and Clarkston.
The Troy High team is led by first-year coach Brian Zawislak, who spent the previous four years with the Colts’ junior varsity program. He is taking over for former coach Dave Hicklin, who in 2010 was named District 9’s Coach of the Year after leading the Colts to back-to-back OAA REd Conference District 9 championships.
Zawislak said he has been impressed with his team’s all-around play this season. “We don’t have superstar players,” he said. “Our goalies are good and we have a lot of really solid players that play as a team.”
Troy hopes to return to the state playoffs this fall, after getting off to an 18-1-1 start least year, only to lose to Grand Blanc in the regional final.Zawislak is hopeful the Colts can find success again.
“As long as we keep everyone healthy through the long season and play consistently, we have a chance to make a good run,” he said. “Our league games are really competitive and they really prepare us for the playoffs. We’ve been there and we know what to expect.”
As a team, the Colts have scored 16 goals and conceded only one en route to their 6-0 start this year. However, heading into Thursday’s match with rival Troy Athens, Zawislak said he expects a tough challenge from the Red Hawks.
“For this game, you throw the records out the window,” Zawislak said. “Both teams have been looking at this date for a while, and when they go up against each other it’s a battle from start to finish. I know our kids have been looking forward to it.”
Athens is also led by a first-year coach, Todd Heugh, who coached soccer at Rochester High School for 11 years before being hired at Athens.
The Red Hawks are off to a 2-2- start in Heugh’s first season, and he said he likes what he’s seen from the team so far.
“We have a good group of hardworking players and a nice balance of 11 seniors and 11 underclassmen,” Heugh said. “It’s also a new, inexperienced team and I’m still adjusting to them and they’re still adjusting to me.”
Athens is 2-0 this season against OAA teams, having defeated Seaholm, 3-0, and Stoney Creek, 2-0. Heugh said if the Red Hawks can stay healthy and catch a few breaks along the way, the team can compete with the OAA’s best.
“If we play well at the right time, we can compete with anyone in the district,” Heugh said.
Thursday’s game with Troy High will undoubtedly be Athens’ toughest test yet, but like Zawislak, Heugh doesn’t believe records come into play when these two teams meet.
“It’s good fun and a great cross-town rivalry,” Heugh said. “Both teams always play hard and we’re looking forward to it.”
The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at Troy Athens.